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Letter From America: Keep Your Windows Closed

Zucchinis, like rabbits, are prolific breeders and a single three-gallon bucketful of seeds will produce a thousand-fold come harvest time. And that is when the trouble begins!

Ronnie Bray brings news of the "plague'' of Montana.

To read more of Ronnie's richly entertaining columns please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/letter_from_america/

Visitors to the wildlands of Montana’s North West are invariably aware that there are creatures roaming free that are not domesticated, have never been domesticated, will not be domesticated, are wild, always have been wild, and always will be wild. It is essential to treat them with respect and thoughtfulness. The greatest proof that a person has a life-saving amount of characteristics is shown when one keeps an adequate distance between theirself and whatever variety of apparatus with which the fauna has been supplied by Providence with which to defend itself, its young, and its territory.

These defensive outfits include - but are not limited to – fangs of the sharp variety, venom of the deadly variety, flashing hooves of the granite hard variety, teeth of the razor sharp clan, fine pointed horns of the goring and piercing variety, antlers small, medium, and large enough to club mice or elephants into non-existence, claws in all shapes and sizes, the most usual being of the long and incisive kind, added to which incredible speed, inordinate strength, and unimaginably foul odours make up the varied armoury of the varied creatures that inhabit the wild places into which man has encroached. The doleful observation by Bambi’s father, "Man is in the forest'', expresses how animals feel the curse of human settlement in their native habitats.

In a majority of cases, use of these natural implements of discomfort and death is the last resort of a creature anxious to rid itself of a nuisance, an irritation, a trespasser, a would-be raider, or to quash by any means possible a perceived danger to their young, or to the pack.

It should be recognised that most dangerous wild animals do not seek out humans as an alternative to their normal diet, except in the case of a hungry or injured mountain lion or bobcat. These animals will, in extremis, eat people. In all other cases, animals shun human company, preferring flight, rather than fight.

However, in Montana’s autumnal season, there is one thing that it is impossible to separate oneself from, and is to the Rocky Mountain’s NorthWest what rabbits are to Australia. Some bright wag thought that Australians would benefit from a ready supply of tasty bunnies, so he brought a load of the furry rodents from the Olde Worlde Up-Over to the New World Down Under and set them free.

Australians initially welcomed rabbits in their stewing pots were soon to discover a downside to their blessing. The surprise that fell upon them was no surprise to Europeans whose backgrounds were in arable farming, for they had been plagued by munch-all, fast-breeding, indestructible rodentia, and in hand-ringing despair shared with their dangerously unapprised fellow émigrés that by the end of next week, hordes of long-eared and scut-tailed voracious herbivores would institute a programme of ongoing attrition that would result in the elimination of fodder needed for farm animals. The result would be disastrous for agrarian enterprises, and thus blight their futures.

It could have been similar thinking – thoughtful, well intentioned, but signally lacking in vision and prudence – that moved a [wisely] anonymous person to attempt to bless his fellows in Montana by introducing a specie that multiplied even faster than do rabbits. I speak of the ubiquitous zucchini.

The odd zucchini, like the odd rabbit, can amuse, divert, and even feed a small group of humanity, especially when in company of other things fit for eating. It is sad to relate that the vegetable increased in exponential proportion to his furry friend’s rate of increase in the antipodean australii.

Whilst the annual glut of these stunted cucumbers does not pose any significant threat to human health, it is nevertheless the cause of a condition described in The Lancet and the American Journal of Medicine as ‘Autumnal Zucchini Greens.’ The ‘Greens is similar in effect as is a dose of the ‘Blues,’ but with a vegetabilian chlorophylliate base that turns the product green.

For some reason as yet undiscovered, Montanans who will grow nothing in their gardens or plots, having learned by sad experience that if they plant fruit, vegetables, or flowers, one or other of the species of deer common to the area will come and scoff the lot at one sitting.

But zucchinis get a bye and in go the seeds by the bucketful. Zucchinis, like rabbits, are prolific breeders and a single three-gallon bucketful of seeds will produce a thousand-fold come harvest time. And that is when the trouble begins!

It all seems so innocent with local folks offering huge bagsful of freshly harvested zucchinis from their own gardens and yards. These are gladly received except by returning tourists and hunters who fell under the Curse last year. These pretend not to speak any language at all and brush by smiling locals bearing gifts.

Yet the glut has to go and simple refusals do not faze zucchini-rich Montanans who live on their wits and know how to make something happen if they really want it to happen. That is where ‘Plan-Zed’ comes in. Those on whom the plan has been worked in other years are usually safe, unless they forget about it. Those most likely to get taken advantage of by way of this clever ploy are visitors who are new to the area.

Some are of the number of those who have been imposed on in previous years but have forgotten how it works and what they need to do to stop them from being victimised a second, or third or even a fourth time by breaking the vicious cycle once and for ever.

It is not hard to prevent self and company from being buried alive under mountains of freely donated zucchini from perfect strangers. All that is necessary is to lock the car doors, roll up the windows, and keep the boot and bonnet securely locked.

Those who fail to do so are inviting zucchini bandits to off-load their glut into their vehicle’s interior space. If they dropped of one or two, or even a dozen, it could be regarded as a thoughtful gift from the locals. But when the deposit runs to several hundred-weights the gilt goes off the gingerbread, and a difficult and laborious trip to the city dump to re-donate them to a hungry rubbish skip has been known to make saints swear like sinners.

Before leaving your vehicle in a grocery shop’s car park, always wind up the windows, shut the sunroof and convertible top, then lock the boot, the bonnet, and all four doors, and you have a Zucchini Free Zone. Believe me, it is worth the time and trouble. Unless, of course, you enjoy a ton or two of zucchini for your tea.

Copyright © 2008 – Ronnie Bray


Ronnie's "RETOLD YORKSHIRE FOLK TALES" Website at: http://yorkshiretales.com


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