Sunday, May 31, 2020


Last week we celebrated the feast of Pope Saint Paul VI, which is listed as a memorial ad lib- which means we can celebrate it if we want, or not.  But for us this Pope had a significant influence on our foundation to the USA in the 1940s, so we celebrated it as a full memorial.  In 1960 he gave us Lumen Gentium (Light of the Nations),  one of the principal documents of the Second Vatican Council.  It is not coincidental  that we celebrate his feast so close to the new feast of MARY, MOTHER OF THE CHURCH.

Elly Tulis- Indiana
“At once virgin and mother, Mary is the symbol and the most perfect realization of the Church: ‘the Church indeed… by receiving the word of God in faith becomes herself a mother. By preaching and Baptism she brings forth sons, who are conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of God, to a new and immortal life. She herself is a virgin, who keeps in its entirety and purity the faith she pledged to her spouse”.

So why has the Church put this new feast the day after Pentecost? Mary was with the Apostles when the Holy Spirit descended upon them on that very first Pentecost!  Christ gave His Mother  to us as our Mother, so she is the spiritual mother of the Church. 

“The hope is that the extension of this celebration to the whole Church will remind all Christ’s disciples that, if we want to grow and to be filled with the love of God, it is necessary to plant our life firmly on three great realities: the Cross, the Eucharist, and the Mother of God. These are three mysteries that God gave to the world in order to structure, fructify, and sanctify our interior life and lead us to Jesus. These three mysteries are to be contemplated in silence.”
                                                                                                    Cardinal Robert Sarah

“God’s plan included providing a Savior who entered this world through a dual choice: God chose Mary and Mary chose God. The Church honors Mary because she is the beloved Mother of Jesus. Mary was part of God’s plan for salvation. As the Mother of God and as the Mother of the Redeemer, she maintains a place of honor in both the earthly Church and in the heavenly.

Her relationship is distinct from all other humankind, because she was born sinless. Mary was completely human, born without sin and remained sinless. By nature of her humanity she required salvation. Mary’s role was not forced on her; she was completely free to say yes or not. Jesus restored grace to the world. Mary participated in this by her loving cooperation with God. Mary played an integral part in God’s plan to save the world.

She was present and devoted to Jesus as his mother and supported him in his ministry from Cana to Calvary. After his death she remained present in prayer and faith. Our devotion to Mary is out of love and respect to God and His plan. It does not and is not intended to diminish the truth that Christ alone is our mediator. Mary is a great helper to us as we seek the road to holiness. She was human and as such was forced to face temptation. She did not cave in to temptation but endured in all things.

She is the model of virtue. By meditating on her, we grow more like her Son. We honor and have piety toward Mary for no other reason than to better know Christ and to open the whole world up to receiving the graces of Christ. The Second Vatican Council encouraged people to cultivate a loving devotion to Mary and strongly urged theologians and pastors to abstain from gross exaggerations and or neglectful omission in considering the dignity of Mary.

Mary’s place is with God in heaven. Christians are called to understand as Mary did, that in the end truth will prevail, as all things are restored in Christ. The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council provide us with a great.”  (Lumen Gentium)

Saturday, May 30, 2020


                               MOTHER ABBESS LUCIA KUPPENS,OSB,  May 2020

P. Solomon Raj, India

How could we have not noticed before? After the Ascension, Jesus sends the Apostles into “lockdown” to wait for the Holy Spirit to come! They are to go back to Jerusalem. Stay in Jerusalem. They are to stay together, self-isolating as a group, staying in one room, until the Father’s promise to send the Spirit is fulfilled. Not knowing what to expect, feeling threats of persecution from without and uncertainty within, they must have been filled with terrible fear and anxiety. Does the scene sound familiar?

But they are not left in uncertainty:
When the day of Pentecost came it found them gathered in one place. Suddenly …there came a noise like a strong, driving wind which was heard all through the house where they were seated. Tongues as of fire appeared, which parted and came to rest on each of them. All were filled with the Holy Spirit. They began to express themselves in foreign tongues and make bold proclamation as the Spirit prompted them.
Acts of the Apostles 2: 1-4

The Holy Spirit finds the Apostles where they had been “quarantined,” and though they were all Galileans, gives them the power to be understood in every language under heaven. Thus, through the coming of the Holy Spirit, the “mighty works of God” were proclaimed to the ends of the earth and universally understood by all. I do not think it is too fanciful to draw the analogy here with the way the sharing of knowledge and experiences on social media has brought the four corners of the world very close and made it possible for an almost instantaneous and global communication of news of the pandemic to be shared in every language and distant culture.

It remains to be seen whether this experience of the Covid-19 Pandemic will in fact lead us closer to a unity in the Holy Spirit or to a regression back to the tower of Babel, but the possibility of this crisis bringing about a true intervention of the Spirit is unmistakable. The outcome depends on what we make of the opportunity. For the coming of the Holy Spirit does not mean an instant end to the virus, or a guaranteed cure, or recovered jobs, or no more suffering, any more than it meant the end of persecution for the early Christians. Rather it means that we may be strengthened by the gifts of Holy Spirit in such a way that when we emerge from the pandemic, we are stronger people, more loving, more united, clearer about our priorities and what we believe.

Along with the rest of the world, the Abbey has been experiencing the restrictions and challenges of living under “Stay at Home” orders since roughly mid-March 2020. We have closely followed the directives of Archbishop Leonard Blair in all matters of public worship and the guidelines of Governor Ned Lamont on all issues pertaining to the containment of the virus. Regrettably, we had to close the Abbey guesthouses, close the church of Jesu Fili Mariae for public worship, and make the lower monastery, unfinished as it is, our whole world until further notice. Work on the new building by necessity slowed to a mere trickle of things that could be done without the construction crews needing to come inside. Last Christmas, you may remember, we had projected that we would be finishing Phase III of the building in June or July of 2020 and celebrating soon thereafter. Instead, we seemed to see our completion date receding on a distant horizon.

Pentecost Mosaic - George Mayer Marton - 1957.
Liverpool Roman Catholic Cathedral

And yet, simultaneously, we discovered an opening to a greater interior horizon, an intensification of prayer, a deepening of community bonds as we had to work together to protect the most vulnerable in our midst. We have been flooded with requests for prayers during this time: for those who are ill, or caring for the ill, or separated from loved ones, or out of work. We have tried to honor each request personally, renewing the Abbey’s tradition of placing prayer intentions at our statue of St. Benedict, now located inside the cloister. We have read these intentions aloud at our Communion Service each day or at the very special hour of Matins at 2:00 a.m. Our Foundresses had had the insight long ago that people who are suffering feel the pain of isolation and hopelessness most keenly in the small hours of the night, so that is when we should be especially vigilant in prayer. The widespread suffering caused by the pandemic has brought this home to us in a radical way, as we have tried to be more consciously in union with those calling on our prayers.

And we know that we have been sustained by the heroic faith of so many people praying for us. Thank you for your steadfast witness to the love of God and presence of Christ in all circumstances. As another sign of our solidarity with you, our bells ring every evening in union with bells across the land in gratitude for the first responders and frontline medical personnel. The words of John Donne, once a commonplace of English literature classes, now resonate with the poignancy of our lived experience: 

No man is an island entire of itself…. Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.  (Meditation XVII)

Mark Durham - USA

By now, several months into the pandemic, much has been written about the positive effects of living in quarantine. The surging, unstoppable creativity of people across the globe has been well-documented and shared on social media. The extraordinary generosity of those reaching out to offer spiritual assistance, economic help, and much-needed entertainment to others has been a constant source of inspiration. But this re-ordering of priorities and growth in charity for one’s fellow creatures as a result of “quarantine,” should not be a total surprise. As contemplatives, living an enclosed life and taking a vow of Stability, we are, in a sense, always in training for moments such as this. Our whole life is built on the assumption that the interior horizons of the spiritual life are real, essential, and limitlessly rewarding. No matter what state of life we are called to, we always need the renewal that comes through re-focusing our interior gaze. This time of “lockdown” has given our community a needed chance to re-invigorate our prime Mission: to pray without ceasing, with the help of the Holy Spirit, for the needs of humanity.

Taking the Apostles and Our Lady in the upper room as our model during this time of apartness, we have implored God the Father to pour out once again the gift of his Holy Spirit on a suffering world. We hope you all will join us in this effort, in whatever way is native to you and possible in your circumstances. For the more of us who unite to lift our voices in praise and prayer, especially for those who are overwhelmed by this terrible trial and cannot pray, or do not know where to turn, the more we will open a channel for the mercy of God to flow to all who need it. We cannot control or determine when the virus will end, but we can help ensure that the world on the other side of this crisis, the world which we are shaping right now by the way we treat each other, will advance however slowly toward being a more merciful, just, and loving world. We will get through this, as many are fond of saying these days, but not on human strength or ingenuity alone. It will require a new awareness of the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit, especially at this critical time when restrictions start to loosen.

Sadao Watanabe

As we gradually and prudently get back to work, let us together place our hope in the inextinguishable fire and consoling hope of the Spirit’s sevenfold gifts:

For the gift of Fortitude for those ill with Covid-19 and all those whose lives have been disrupted by unemployment, displacement, and grief due to its effects.

For the gift of Understanding for all those family members, care givers and health professionals trying to assist the sick and dying.

For the gift of Piety, that there be an increase of mercy transmitted from person to person and that the spread of compassion be strong enough to overcome the devastation of indifference and fear.

For the gift of Knowledge for all researchers and scientists trying to discover the laws of the Covid -19 virus and find a vaccine to stop it.

For the gift of Counsel for all those who have to make policy decisions about how to handle the pandemic on the national and local levels, that they work together to discern when and how to re-open the countries of the world.

For the gift of Wisdom for all leaders, at whatever level, who hold the fate of others in their hands.

For the gift of Fear of the Lord that people everywhere join in acknowledging that we are not the rulers of the universe, but only creatures, totally dependent on God’s love to find and maintain our proper place in his marvelous Creation.

We ask this in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020


Today came news that several of our favorite “saints-to-be” will  soon be canonized and beatified.

BL. CHARLES de FOUCAULD, a French missionary killed in Algeria in 1916 will be declared a saint. The blessed, also known as Brother Charles of Jesus, was a soldier, explorer, Catholic revert, priest, hermit, and religious brother, who served among the nomadic Tuareg people in the Sahara desert in Algeria. Bl. Charles wanted to live among “the furthest removed, the most abandoned.”     

He was assassinated by a band of men at his hermitage in the Sahara on Dec. 1, 1916.  (See Blog: 3/20/13)

 Closer to home, VENERABLE MICHAEL McGIVNEY has been approved for beatification due to a first miracle. From Connecticut, very near where our Prioress grew up, he was a 19th-century American priest who founded the Knights of Columbus.  (See Blog: 10/29/12)

Father McGivney founded the Knights of Columbus to encourage greater, active participation of lay Catholics in their faith and to care for families when the breadwinner died. Today the Knights are one of the biggest Catholic organizations in the world, known for their charitable efforts and counting about 2 million members in the Americas, Caribbean, Asia and Europe. They also promote vocations to the priesthood and religious life.  We have very active members as frequent helpers to our monastery.

Ven. McGivney died amid a 19th-century pandemic which may have been caused by a coronavirus.  Biologists using gene-sequencing methods have attributed the pandemic to a type of coronavirus. This virus, which first appeared in Russia, killed a total of 1 million people worldwide, including 13,000 in the United States.

Father McGivney became seriously ill with pneumonia and died on Aug. 14, 1890, at age 38. His beatification will take place in Connecticut.

French laywoman VENERABLE PAULINE MARIE JARICOT, who lived from 1799 to 1862 in Lyon,  will also now be beatified.

She founded the Living Rosary Association and the Society of the Propagation of the Faith, which later became the first of the four pontifical mission societies.

Pauline Jaricot, a member of the lay Dominicans, was devoted to promoting support of the Church’s missionary efforts around the world. 


May 25, in a letter to an Italian journalist, Pope Francis said we should pray for mothers to have courage as they face the challenges of the post-coronavirus world.

“The question of every mother resounds in the heart: ‘What world will my child live in?’” the pope wrote.

“Let us pray for them, so that the Lord may give them the courage to accompany their children with the trust that it will certainly be a different world, but it will always be a world loved very much by the Lord.”

Several of our friends and relatives have children graduating this May and June and are off to college.  With the uncertain state of our world, I wondered what parents were thinking regarding the future of their children, so I posed the question to a few. And also asked how they were coping with children at home full time.

From our Hawaiian Oblate Karen who has two children off to universities in California.

Am I ready?  I don't think any parent is ever ready to send their kids thousands of miles away from them to face the cruel world by themselves.  I am fearful for all of the things that I would be without the COVID: their physical safety, mental health, finding good friends, rejecting bad boy friends and girl friends, building good habits, avoiding opiods, being academically successful at college, and most importantly, finding the career that makes them happy.  I can tell you that I am SOOOOOO happy one of my kids will be at a wonderful Jesuit college and the other at a small/medium sized school in a medium sized town. 

Ana- No graduation
Having them go to college is actually more comforting for me than young people who don't have a plan for the next couple of years in life.  I have two nephews graduating from college this month. What job prospects are there for them?  What about all of the seniors not going to college?  what will they do stuck at home without jobs?  Sounds like a recipe for disaster.

I think this, like many other times in history, is a short term hurdle to overcome with a new life on the other side.  I am trying really hard to trust in God (spending an hour a day in prayers, reflections and doing the Jesuit spiritual exercises this month) and keep a positive attitude.

My one big question is this: We have taken it for granted that our children, families, friends, spiritual community are just a plane flight away.  So I have always been comfortable being physically distant knowing that in a day I could easily get anywhere I needed if someone needed me.  Is this dependence on easy, affordable and safe airplane travel going to be something we are going to continue to depend on or will we all have to start being more geographically centric?  If my kids are in CA and I can't get there in a drop of a hat, I am moving there. 

Children at Play- Edvard Munch- Norway
Another mother  of four very active children  (one in college) wrote: The stay home order has been an utter blessing for the kids and I. The change has resulted in a much more peaceful home and we have also appreciated the change in pace.  I was already homeschooling the younger two girls, but now we are not running around  5 days a week.

Our days and evenings have been filled with family bonding time; board games, card games, baking, long walks and exploring our garden.  Since we cannot go to the store, we are working on making gifts for family and friends for special occasions.  Handmade soaps, knitted items, floral collages and baked goods have been appreciated by family and friends.  We have participated in "drive by" birthday greetings for friends and have developed a special relationship with our next door neighbors, whom my children now call Grandma & Grandpa.  

We have been able to participate in Mass at the Cathedral through VEMO and have found an online adoration website.  Sunday school has continued through Zoom and emailed lessons after the books were mailed to the house.  I have been reading saint books to the younger two girls as they work on puzzles and we have finished one on Joan of Arc, Saint Vincent de Paul and are currently reading one on Saint Francis.

Monday, May 25, 2020


A poet I have never heard of, but one of Ireland’s best and a woman at that, died April 27, 2020.
She had just returned from her long-time teaching position at Stanford University in California to wait out the coronavirus pandemic in her native Dublin. She was 75.

EAVAN BOLAND was not only a very fine poet, but was instrumental in bringing the hidden voices of women poets in Ireland out into the open.  This poem is very apt for our time here and now.

In the worst hour of the worst season
of the worst year of a whole people
a man set out from the workhouse with his wife.
He was walking — they were both walking — north.
She was sick with famine fever and could not keep up.
He lifted her and put her on his back.
He walked like that west and west and north.
Until at nightfall under freezing stars they arrived.
In the morning they were both found dead.
Of cold. Of hunger. Of the toxins of a whole history.
But her feet were held against his breastbone.
The last heat of his flesh was his last gift to her.
Let no love poem ever come to this threshold.
There is no place here for the inexact
praise of the easy graces and sensuality of the body.
There is only time for this merciless inventory:
Their death together in the winter of 1847.
Also what they suffered. How they lived.
And what there is between a man and woman.
And in which darkness it can best be proved.

                                   "Quarantine" is from "New Collected Poems"   released by WW Norton.

Sunday, May 24, 2020


Sister M. Grace Thul, O.P.

As we end the month of May, dedicated to Our Mother Mary, Queen of the Rosary, I give a few more images of her, all from recent times.  We also continue to pray for all still suffering from the coronavirus, either physically, monetarily, emotionally or spiritually.

Holy Virgin of Guadalupe, Queen of the Angels and Mother of the Americas.
We fly to you today as your beloved children.
We ask you to intercede for us with your Son, as you did at the wedding in Cana.
Pray for us, loving Mother,
and gain for our nation and world,
and for all our families and loved ones,
the protection of your holy angels,
that we may be spared the worst of this illness.

For those already afflicted,
we ask you to obtain the grace of healing and deliverance.
Hear the cries of those who are vulnerable and fearful,
wipe away their tears and help them to trust.

Stephen Whatley- England

In this time of trial and testing,
teach all of us in the Church to love one another and to be patient and kind.
Help us to bring the peace of Jesus to our land and to our hearts.
We come to you with confidence,
knowing that you truly are our compassionate mother,
health of the sick and cause of our joy.

Shelter us under the mantle of your protection,
keep us in the embrace of your arms,
help us always to know the love of your Son, Jesus. Amen.
                                 Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles

Beloved Mother, help us realize that we are all members of one great family and to recognize the bond that unites us, so that, in a spirit of fraternity and solidarity, we can help to alleviate countless situations of poverty and need. Make us strong in faith, persevering in service, constant in prayer.

Mary, Consolation of the afflicted, embrace all your children in distress and pray that God will stretch out his all-powerful hand and free us from this terrible pandemic, so that life can serenely resume its normal course.
                                                                                                               Pope Francis

Friday, May 22, 2020


1600- Italian

We are almost through the month of May and many still experiencing either self -imposed or mandated quarantine. So still more time to pray?  Why should we pray the Rosary? 
The Rosary unites our hearts to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, who is, aside from Jesus Himself, God’s greatest gift to the human race. In Mary, we have the most perfect creature, the best example of sainthood, and the most caring mother. We cannot go wrong when we choose to imitate Mary as  she exemplifies all the Christian virtues.
The Rosary gives us a sort of “guided tour” of Jesus’ life, through the eyes of the one person who knew Him the best - His own mother. At each mystery, we can contemplate what it must have been like for Mary to be there - at the Annunciation, at Christmas, at the Crucifixion - and we can ask Mary to obtain for us the graces we need to live a life that is conducive to our salvation, and the salvation of our family and friends.
Murillo- 17th C- Spain
Numerous Popes have spoken often and forcefully about the benefits of the Rosary, and Marian devotion. In the encyclical Rosarium Virginis Mariae, Pope St. John Paul II said, “The Rosary belongs among the finest and most praiseworthy traditions of Christian contemplation.”
In October 2016, Pope Francis said, “the Rosary is the prayer that always accompanies my life: it is also the prayer of simple people and is the prayer of my heart.” If the Rosary has been given the approval of so many Popes, what reason should we have for not making it a regular part of our prayer lives?
After Peru, the country which has the most images for Our Lady of the Rosary is Italy, followed by Spain. And not many of these are modern, but rather 16-18th centuries.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020


Macha Chmakoff- French

Once more, as in these past two months, we come to another great feast, the ASCENSION of Jesus into Heaven.  Once more, most of the churches will be locked. Once more Catholics will need to rely on their own resources (and there are many on line) to celebrate. 

Once more, as happens every day in the lives of most people across the globe, we ask what does the future hold?  For me, for my family and loved ones, for friends, for the sick, for the dying, for all who are working tirelessly to keep life afloat.  

Once more we know we face an uncertain future in all aspects of our lives. What do we do in this new situation? How do we grow spiritually when we might not even be able to go to Mass?

In this great feast, we find HOPE, that our Savior goes to the Father, that we may one day follow Him. We need to know that He wants to meet us in our uncertainties, our fears, our disappointments.  He will help us carry the crosses we are facing, and they are not trivial. 

"The aftermath has already begun to be revealed as tragic and painful, which is why we must be thinking about it now. . . . I’m living this as a time of great uncertainty. It’s a time for inventing, for creativity. . . . What we are living now is a place of metanoia (conversion), and we have the chance to begin. So, let’s not let it slip from us, and let’s move ahead."  Pope Francis

A Prayer to Combat the Coronavirus Pandemic

Most merciful and Triune God,
We come to You in our weakness.
We come to You in our fear.
We come to You with trust.
For You alone are our hope.

We place before You the disease present in our world.
We turn to You in our time of need.

Bring wisdom to doctors.
Give understanding to scientists.
Endow caregivers with compassion and generosity.
Bring healing to those who are ill.
Protect those who are most at risk.
Give comfort to those who have lost a loved one.
Welcome those who have died into Your eternal home.

Stabilize our communities.
Unite us in our compassion.
Remove all fear from our hearts.
Fill us with confidence in Your care.

Jesus, I trust in You.
Jesus, I trust in You.
Jesus, I trust in You.

The author of this prayer is unknown.

Monday, May 18, 2020


 Pope Francis has decreed that ST. FAUSTINA KOWALSKA’S feast day be added to the Roman Calendar as an optional memorial to be celebrated by all on October 5.
The Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship issued the decree May 18, the 100th anniversary of the birth of St. John Paul II, who canonized St. Faustina on April 13, 2000, making her the first saint of the new millennium.
William Hart McNichols

The decree said that Pope Francis had taken the step in response to petitions from pastors, religious men and women and associations of the faithful, and “having considered the influence exercised by the spirituality of St. Faustina in different parts of the world.”
The decree continued: “Canonized in the year 2000 by St. John Paul II, the name of Faustina quickly became known around the world, thereby promoting in all the parts of the People of God, Pastors and lay faithful alike, the invocation of Divine Mercy and its credible witness in the conduct of the lives of believers.”
On April 19, Pope Francis celebrated Divine Mercy Sunday at Santo Spirito in Sassia, a church a short walk from St. Peter’s Basilica. The Mass marked the 20th liturgical anniversary of St. Faustina Kowalska’s canonization and the official institution of the feast of Divine Mercy Sunday by St. John Paul II.
St. John Paul II’s life was intimately connected to the Divine Mercy devotion. He died April 2, 2005, the vigil of Divine Mercy Sunday. He was beatified on Divine Mercy Sunday in 2011 and canonized on Divine Mercy Sunday in 2014.

Sunday, May 17, 2020


 Those of you who have followed past Blogs know how much I love Hawaii, esp. the Big Island, which I did not get to this year, due to new puppies. But  our faithful Oblate, Karen, sent this to me.  At least one Bishop “gets it!”

Sunset at Puako

Good Morning,
Please see below Bishop Larry Silva’s response to Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s “CITY AND COUNTY OF HONOLULU EMERGENCY ORDER NO. 2020-11 (COVID-19 [Novel Coronavirus])” issued on May 13,2020. 

We have been working with government officials to see that we can reopen our churches as soon as possible, with social distancing, controlled numbers of attendees, masks, and sanitizing protocols.  While I know Mayor Caldwell is trying to be diligent about the health of our community, and am happy to see restrictions for gatherings for worship are going to be eased, the “in vehicle” services, especially with the prohibition of distributing anything, simply is not what is needed for Catholic worship.  At the heart of our service, the Eucharist, is receiving Holy Communion, and people have been longing for this communion with the Lord.  Having people “attend” a service from their vehicles when they are prohibited from receiving Communion is of little value to us.  People would be much more comfortable viewing a live-stream from home if they could not receive Communion.  We are working toward responsibly getting people back into church, so that they can receive Communion during the celebration of the Eucharist.  I hope that, just as restaurants are soon to be open with proper protocols, we will be able to open our churches VERY SOON to celebrate in a way that respects our own religious practices.”  By Most Rev. Larry Silva, Bishop of Honolulu

Saturday, May 16, 2020


Anyone who knows anything about TRUFFLES knows that pigs used to be the main “digger’s for this much sought after fungus.  Evidently this fungus smells like testosterone, so the females were used.  But pigs like to root, often disturbing natural habitats and also grow pretty big- who wants to wrestle a 2-300 pound pig, especially when the pig decides she wants to eat that truffle? 

In 1985 pigs were outlawed to hunt truffles  because they damaged truffle beds while trying to get at them, hence dogs were brought into the picture. While many breeds have been tested for this work the undisputed truffle hunting breed is the Lagotto Romagnolo.

Years of selective breeding made this once water-retrieving breed into one with an uncanny talent for scenting, but with the hunting instinct suppressed so that a Lagotto isn’t distracted by the smell of game while working.

So we are often asked by anyone in the know of truffles, "do your Lagotti hunt truffles?"   Not yet, we answer but….  There is no reason why they can’t be trained and it is thought we have truffles on Shaw, as we have the right habitat and trees.

People have had some success cultivating truffles in Oregon, and black and white truffles have been discovered in the wild in British Columbia, California, Montana, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington, mostly near the roots of Douglas fir trees. These North American varieties don’t share the intense aroma of their European cousins found in Italy, France, and Spain—but then again, they don’t have the value of thousands of dollars a pound.

The four species of native truffles are cousins of the celebrated truffles of France and Italy. In the Pacific Northwest region of North America, three of the commercial culinary varieties of truffles grow in association with Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) in coastal forests and timber stands. The main growing season for commercial culinary species in the Pacific Northwest is winter through spring. Different species of truffles, such as some of those in Europe will be ripe at different times of the year.

What are these strange, much sought after edibles that look like misshapen clods of earth? Truffles are not eaten in quantity like other highly esteemed mushrooms such as porcini, morels or chanterelles; truffles are all about their rich aroma ... Just a few thin shavings of a mature truffle will infuse a dish sufficiently with its savory aroma, turning a good meal into a culinary sensation. Also, truffles are commonly used to infuse oil rich foods like cheese, pâté, butter or high end oils. The infusion happens by osmosis, one need only place a mature truffle next to the food within a sealed container. In the case of oils one should not put the truffle into the oil. That would suffocate the truffle and not transfer its taste. Just let them sit next to each other for a few days and the oil smells like truffles. 

Truffle orchards have been planted in the Pacific Northwest since the late 90s, and the very first ones produced Pacific Northwest Périgord truffles for the first time in 2012. Most orchards are still too young, however. It takes at least 5 years for the first truffles to mature. Like good wines or cheese, cultivating truffles is its own art and science. 

The reason for the low supply is that a truffle never pops its head above ground, so finding one can be a bit of a treasure hunt. But merely locating a truffle isn’t enough. It has to be extracted at peak ripeness; otherwise, it is essentially worthless. Unlike other crops that continue to ripen after being picked, an unripe truffle has no odor and no flavor—and never will after it is removed from the ground.

So by end of summer we hope to have two very good truffle hunters, since digging is their passion!