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#60 Truffle off to Buffalo

September 19th, 2016

Hi darlin’:

Hey, I just saw an article claiming Stephen Hawking says we are ripe for invasion from outer space, that aliens could be arriving soon. Why is it when Hawking says that he gets headlines?  I’ve said it for years and got nothing but scorn and laughter. Actually, I think the aliens are already here, their serpent-brains working overtime to try to destroy civilization as we know it and my proof of it is that not one, but two of the arstles are vying to be POTUS. And don’t think we got rid of ours just because Harpy has left Ottawa.

All of which is secondary to the news that my neutered tom, Dustbugger, has gone AWOL for six days.

The absence of both deer and Dustbugger leads me to suggest the cougar is back. Dustbugger has gone walk-about before, and was once gone a full week, so there’s another day to go before I hit the panic button, but… if he’s gone-gone, I’m not inclined to go actively searching for a replacement.

Seems as if male cats are hard-wired to claim and expand territory, fight, explore and do everything obnoxious. Even neutered. The only difference I see is that neutered toms aren’t going to make a female cat pregnant, but all the rest of the carryon is still there.

It’s not as if Dustbugger was all that good at keeping the mice away from the house, I’ve got snap-traps baited with peanut butter in my cupboards and every now and again have to dispose of a mouse.

But I’ll miss him. He is/was affectionate. He was also entertaining and quite totally gorgeous. Somewhere in his forebears is a Siamese and there was obvious evidence of a silver tabby. He was born under a neighbour’s house. His mother was a Siamese-looking feral queen who vanished when her kittens were mere days old. My neighbour heard the kittens mewling under the house.

Dustbugger is the only one of the litter who survived. He slept on my bed. He was a very quiet cat with an almost apologetic mew which he only used to ask to have the door opened so he could go outside. The bush starts practically at my back door, and it’s full of hungry critters; raccoons, muskrat, mink, pine martens, weasels, you name it. And any or all of them would quite gladly feast on a well-fed house cat.

But the big news of the week is that I’ve decided to start an entrepreneurial endeavour. Truffles, my dear.

A friend in Victoria has a huge Garry oak. She sent me a container of this year’s acorns and I have planted almost all of them. They won’t ALL sprout and grow. I know nature overdoes most things just to spread the bounty, but maybe one or two will grow.  I already have one baby pink chestnut growing in a bucket of dirt from a conker I found a year-and-a-bit ago. Maybe one or two oak trees will happen.

Apart from the fact that anyone approaching eighty demonstrates a great deal of optimism when she plants a tree seed, and apart from the fact we all need more optimism in our lives, there might well be solid business sense involved. Because truffles grow best under oak and hazelnut trees.

Truffles are selling for three hundred to five hundred dollars a pound. So I’m planning on having an oak orchard.

I already know you can find truffles with the help of a female pig. A sow. Truffles grow as deep as three feet underground, but they have a scent similar to the pheromones of a male pig. A boar. The female is attracted to the scent and begins to unearth the truffle. The trick is to get the truffle before she does or she’ll eat it and there goes your profit.

In Europe some Truffle hunters are ignoring the sow and training dogs to find truffles.  That might be more do-able. I could get something sort of houndy, but smaller, something like maybe a beagle or even a dachshund. A dachshund wouldn’t take up much room in the house.

If at first we aren’t getting filthy rich selling truffles, we can make some side money selling trained piglets and puppies to other people who want to get in on the truffle biz.  They probably grow wild here anyway. Certainly they do in Washington and Oregon. But I want my own oak plantation because I don’t want to go off with my weiner dog in search of truffles and wind up in a territorial debate with a cougar or a bear. Cougar and bear are not apt to come into the oak forest I plan to grow because of the din of the swarming, yapping puppies and the oinking, grunting piglets.

If I was younger I’d figure out how I could get complete strangers to send me money with one of those IndieGoGo fundraising schemes. Draft a clever pitch and let people give me money instead of working. Get your money for nothing…before I truffle off to Buffalo.

Anne Cameron grows pussywillows on the western edge of Vancouver Island. She received the George Woodcock Lifetime Achievement Award for an outstanding literary career in British Columbia in 2010. Her 23 books include Daughters of Copper Woman, the bestselling work of fiction ever written about B.C. and published from within B.C. She has banished herself to Tahsis, a small town not far from Friendly Cove where the shenanigans called British Columbia all began.



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