Tending the rambunctious garden
November 10, 2012
Author Emma Marris posted the following twitter comment two days ago:
Sitting down to write a piece about hipster hunting. Are the hipsters near you taking to the woods with (vintage) shotguns?
Today Emma Marris’s young brother-in-law Vanya Rohwer showed up at the farm with pal Martin Mallet. Clutching vintage shotguns, they pressed Charlie into a photo shoot to illustrate Emma’s forthcoming article in Slate, the online magazine.
Quite a bit had already gone on this Saturday. Tony had stopped by early to use the hoist to put on his winter tires, so I backed Charlie’s 968 out and we put his car up. That went well until we bogged down trying to find the oil filter on a Lexus IS350. No luck. Finally I checked online. Unlike my ES which takes a conventional spin-on filter, the IS has a replaceable internal cartridge filter. Problem solved. Impressive car from the underside.
By then Rob had arrived with his Jetta for a brake job, only the service station which repaired a flat tire for him a couple of months ago hadn’t given him back his little wheel lug key, so he had to run back to Kingston to get it.
Meanwhile Charlie’s Audi pulled in with a bad miss. While the cars scurried around, Tony and Roz contented themselves digging carrots and beets from the garden. Between meal preparations Bet and Cagney worked their way through a pile of pine and spruce boughs, arranging the outdoor Christmas decorations. My mother conscripted me to an hour of curtain hanging in her upstairs bedrooms.
Rob returned with the recovered lug nut key and worked until his brake job ran up against a VW stud shaped like a torx screw, only with 14 teeth. No way to get a wrench to fit something like that on a weekend. Rob’s car went back together and off he went.
Charlie and I grabbed computers to diagnose the problem with his faltering Audi. I found the trouble code with my trusty reader: P0171. Something about the air/fuel/crankcase vent. Armed with similar information from an Audi forum, Charlie beat me to the car, traced an air line to a broken plastic valve, duct taped it into place and solved the problem until he can get a replacement part. No surprise then that I had shattered the handle of the dip stick on this 2003 car when I replaced it today. Audi plastic seems to have an expiry date.
Then Martin and Vanya arrived and the photo shoot commenced. Everybody loaded everything (including several changes of clothes, various firearms, a bag of frozen squirrels and a random cow mattress out of the shed) into the Ranger and headed for the woods. What bugs me about ex-skateboarder Vanya is that he can step into the back of the Ranger. I can barely climb in over a tire.
Dressed in his bright orange windbreaker, Charlie took charge. Roz played the role of BOGO, essentially a mobile shadow to keep the sun off the camera’s lens during shots. Martin and Vanya wheeled out various props, the most impressive of which had to be the vintage Browning 12 gauge automatic Vanya brought. The entire barrel cycles back when it fires, an impressive sight, though there was no ammunition in evidence on this “hunting” trip. Martin made do with an elderly single barrel twelve for the vintage shots, but brought out his ultra-chic camouflaged Italian semi-auto at first opportunity. It is a fine shotgun and I would be proud to own it, too.
So the hunters became models while Charlie posed them at the edge of a field of corn and in front of an old walnut tree. Endless shots, setups and discussions ensued. The crew got away from me when they drove the Ranger to the other side of the woodlot to catch the setting sun and I came back to the house on my little tractor. Well after dark they arrived, grinning and hungry. Martin and Vanya reportedly spotted a large clump of oyster mushrooms halfway up a dead maple, so the modelling deal was off until they had finished collecting bags of these huge fungi. The oysters are very large this year.
I asked Vanya about the sister-in-law who is writing the article in question. Roz mentioned that Emma had spent many years as a staff writer at Nature magazine and currently has a book out. So I looked up Emma Marris, discovered that Amazon still had ten copies of Rambunctious Garden: Saving Nature in a Post-Wild World, and I ordered one. If she is as good a raconteur as her brother-in-law, the book should be a treat.
Here are the professional shots: