During one of many periods when he was basically a human marijuana bale, Neil Young wrote a song called “Words.”

The first lines go something like this:

someone and someone were down by the pond
looking for something to plant in the lawn
out in the fields they were turning mel and his palthe soil
i’m sitting here hoping this water will boil
when I look through the windows and out on the road
they’re bringing me presents and saying hello

This is the sort of blibgibilge to which one may deeply relate, if one is also a human marijuana bale.

But, if not: not likely.

For the chorus, however, Young stuck his head out of the bale long enough to recite words that could become universal:

singing words, words between the lines of age
words, words between the lines of age

Now, I have never been a marijuana bale. Not really. Though it is not unlikely that I am deeply disturbed in some other way.

For these “words, words between the line of age” lyrics, they were the first coherent jumbling to creep cross my cranium, when I encountered today the news that, what we today think of—and eat as—”vanilla,” may actually be stinky slimy goo, squeezed out the anal canals of beavers.

There are many things that, as we endure our incarnation here on this planet, we do not want to hear.

One of these things, I do believe, is that when we think we are eating vanilla, we are actually imbibing beaver butt.

“I lift up the animal’s tail,” said Joanne Crawford, a wildlife ecologist at Southern Illinois University, “get down there, and stick [my] nose near its bum.

“People think I’m nuts,” she added. “I tell them, ‘Oh, but it’s beavers; it smells really good.’”

Castoreum is a chemical compound that mostly comes from a beaver’s castor sacs,  which are located between the pelvis and the base of the tail. Because of its close proximity to the anal glands, castoreum is often a combination of castor gland secretions, anal gland secretions, and urine.

The fragrant, brown slime is about the consistency of molasses, though not quite as thick, Crawford said.

While most anal secretions stink—due to odor-producing bacteria in the gut—this chemical compound is a product of the beaver’s unique diet of leaves and bark, Crawford added.

Instead of smelling icky, castoreum has a musky, vanilla scent, which is why food scientists like to incorporate it in recipes.

Yes. Recipes. For, knowing not what we do, humans routinely eat this stuff.

Still concerned you’re chowing down on beaver-bum goop? Because of its FDA label, in some cases, manufacturers don’t have to list castoreum on the ingredient list and may instead refer to it as “natural flavoring.”


Milk it, baby.

Getting a beaver to produce castoreum for purposes of food processing is tough. Foodies bent on acquiring some of the sticky stuff have to anesthetize the animal and then “milk” its nether regions.

“You can milk the anal glands so you can extract the fluid,” Crawford said. “You can squirt [castoreum] out. It’s pretty gross.”

I cited at the beginning of this piece to Neil Young’s “Words.” Because it is obvious that when one, today, employs the word “vanilla,” said word no longer retains any real meaning. No real meaning, if, in fact, “vanilla” can denote naturalslimy sticky goo blasted out a beaver butt.

In such a beaver-blatting world, it is actually quite quaint, that, among swingers, “vanilla” is the term employed to identify those who do not grok that sexual pleasure—a “natural” striving and goal—may best be experienced, among all and every, rather than delimited by creaky old chains like “marriage,” or “relationships.”

Maybe so. Maybe so.

But, even these swinging people, they may now wish to reassess. Now, that it is clear, that the word “natural,” as well as the word “vanilla,” embrace great slimy blats from a veritable barrage of beaver anuses.

between the lines of age


2 Responses to “Words”

  1. 1 FishOutofWater November 9, 2013 at 6:38 pm

    Eating beaver has taken on a whole new meaning.

    If I was a junkman
    selling you cars,
    Washing your windows
    and shining your stars,
    Thinking your mind
    was my own in a dream
    What would you wonder
    and how would it seem?
    Living in castles
    a bit at a time
    The King started laughing
    and talking in rhyme.

    Singing words, words
    between the lines of age.
    Words, words
    between the lines of age.

    • 2 bluenred November 10, 2013 at 8:30 am

      Yes. A whole new meaning indeed.

      As Billy the Kid (sorta) said to Alamosa Bill: “The word’s a funny thing, ain’t it?”

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When I Worked

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