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"Ever been truffle hunting ? Not in the grocery store or at your favorite restaurant but in the wild, under the shrubs and mosses, following an aging guide? Well, neither have I"
I was supposed to have gone hunting in time for this article but something happened to cancel my excursion... my truffle hunter died!
It's true. One minute he was eating gnocchi smothered in truffle sauce (we hadn't realize the irony until afterword) and the next minute he was dead of a coronary. No suffering, no trauma, just gone.
omehow it seemed fitting: this man who was the centerpiece of the entire town, if not region, should go with the fullness with which he pursued life, his and ours.
People called him Nebbia, which means fog in Italian. I never knew his given name until the funeral signs were posted.
We met as most people do with Nebbia: sitting at the table in the Castel Mustia he called to us to know who had entered his domain.
After he insisted we join him, we spent the next three hours enthralled with his stories, captivated by his mannerisms and amazed at how he gave the same attention to our children as he did us. This was no ordinary town character: this was a genuine human being like few I have ever met.
When we moved to his town, he continued to draw us in; sharing truffles and porcini when he found them and his view on life were empty handed. He became the favorite of my two girls, who would light up as he slide down the steps on his bottom joining in their play.
No egocentric, he thrived on arguments as a means of drawing out another's opinions and passions. Many a night Nebbia's voice would be heard outside our window wrapped in discourse with our neighbors.
It came as little surprise then when he asked what it was exactly that I did. Hoe did I survive in this place far removed from today's society? My response generated more questions that it answered and before long I found myself trying to explain the Internet to someone who never had need of a computer.
True to form, Nebbia quickly saw the value in "digital magazines" and concurrently, I knew I had found my next story : the truffle hunter, ex antiquarian takes to the net. And that was the plan, until his untimely retirement.
So maybe this is his eulogy, instead...or maybe a way to get him on the web, afterall...or even my way of saying thank you and goodbye.
Regardless this can be said, even if some day I do find a truffle hunter to lead me through the mossy undergrowth it will never live up to the education I would have received from Nebbia: on life, on nature and on being a fully human.