On the treasure trial in Valea Verde

It’s late Friday night and we are driving through the silence in the forest. I notice the silhouette of an animal bigger than a rabbit but smaller than a deer.

”Look!” I tell my husband while turning my head, ”I think I saw a fox!”. The fox is followed by a mouse that crosses our path in haste. I widen my eyes, alert in expectation. We reach the top of a hill where a sign tells us that we are now leaving Sibiu County, the land we are entering remains shrouded in mystery, however.

We continue with utmost care for a few kilometres. The inscriptions on the weather beaten milestones are barely decipherable but they tell me enough to know we are on the right track. No other sign or anything at all, but I know that we have finally arrived in Cund and at the Green Valley. We pull over by a house that has a map painted on an entire wall letting us know that Valea Verde awaits us ahead. The path opens before your eyes giving way to a place full of light. There’s somebody waiting for us in front of the large wooden gate. We’re taken to our apartment, shown around and invited to a late dinner. The second day we leave the village again travelling on the same road that takes us back to the forest. We go through an uninhabited green valley and once at a particular chosen place in the forest, from the back of a specially designed car emerges our guide Matilda, a Hungarian Viszla. She runs off beckoned by something only known to her up the steep hill. I follow with big steps worried I might miss the moment the treasure is discovered. I lose myself in thought for a second aware only of the carpet of leaves laid at my feet. Suddenly, in the commotion, I’m brought back to reality and I realize that Mati had found something.

Everybody’s eyes are on an open palm that is holding something small and dark in colour. I wait my turn to hold in my hand this delicate little tuber. The truffle is light and strange, and it refuses to reveal its secrets just yet. I don’t want to give up, so I instinctively lift my stretched palm to my nose and I breathe in deeply. The scent is surprisingly familiar ‒ it smells of the earth it comes from and that gives it its life. I put it in my pocket and get lost in thought again thinking of these strange fungi that grow in Cund at the roots of hornbeam, beech and oak tress and how they form a cup that gradually closes its edges to keep only to itself the very essence of the forest.

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