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From flytraps to big feet

Dear Nephew,

Your Uncle Ambrose is worried about the survival of the Venus flytrap.

He read an article that said poachers are threatening to endanger the insect-eating plants on the coast of North Carolina. The story quoted wildlife officers as saying people are stealing the plants to sell to private collectors.

Don’t misunderstand me. Your uncle is just worried that all the commotion about Venus flytrap poachers will lead to a raid on his garden.

No, your Uncle Ambrose isn’t a poacher. He bought his Venus flytraps from a roadside pickup truck somewhere between Black Ankle and Eldorado. So he may not be directly guilty of Venus flytrap poaching, but he’s certainly culpable.

I told your uncle that he’s like the guy who buys pot on the street corner. He didn’t grow the marijuana but he gave somebody a reason to.

“Now Vic,” your uncle replied, “there’s legal plants and there’s illegal plants. Venus flytraps are legal.”

“Yeah, they’re legal to grow but not to steal from somebody else’s property,” I said.

“But they’re so cute with their toothy grins,” said your uncle.

“I know why you really like them,” I said. “It’s to watch them catch flies.”

“That’s just nature in action,” your Uncle Ambrose countered. “It’s survival of the fittest, natural selection, the food chain.”

“It’s stealing,” I said, “and you’re the fence. You could be charged as an accomplice.”

“Well, I guess I could leave them on the doorstep of the Wildlife Resources Commission,” he said.

“No, you’ll act like a man and take them to an officer,” I said. “All he can do is write you a citation. And he’ll be able to take the plants back to their real home.”

“You’re no fun, Vic,” your uncle said.

He went out to the garden, where he’d planted a dozen of the Venus flytraps and kept a pile of dinner scraps nearby to draw flies. Your uncle carefully dug them up and placed them in a big flower pot.

“I’m gonna miss you guys,” said your Uncle Ambrose. “You’ve helped keep the insect population down since you’ve been here. Now I’ll have to get a bug zapper.”

I told your uncle he could go to the coast whenever he has a hankering to look at Venus flytraps. “While you’re at the Nature Conservancy, I’ll be shopping at Tanger Outlet Mall,” I said.

“That’s a long way to go just to shop for a new purse,” said your uncle. “They have a Tanger just up the road now.”

“Don’t try to change the subject, Am,” I said. “You know you can’t keep an endangered species from its indigenous home. Don’t you realize that the Venus flytrap habitat is slowly shrinking?”

“Sure, I know that,” your uncle said. “That’s why I’ve adopted these. The Venus flytrap is running out of house and home.”

“We’ll leave that problem up to the experts,” I said. “They can set up preserves for the plants where they’ll thrive.”

“But mine are thriving,” said your Uncle Ambrose. “Look at how happy they are.

“Oh looky, a hornet just got swallowed.”

“Well, I hope the flytrap plant doesn’t get a tummy ache,” I said. “That hornet is probably working its stinger to beat the band.”

“It won’t get free, though,” your uncle said. “The Venus flytrap will release its digestive juices and that hornet’ll be plant food.”

“Speaking of which, when you get back from returning those plants, I’ll have dinner ready,” I said.

“That’s alright, Vic,” said your uncle. “I think I’ll stop by the bait shop and hang out there a while.

“I’ll need some time to get over my separation. Maybe the guys at the bait shop have news about the Asian carp that have invaded the Illinois River. 

“Those are huge fish that reproduce like rabbits,” said your uncle. “Wonder if there’s a chance they could get into Randleman Lake.”

I guess your Uncle Ambrose has finally got his mind off his Venus flytraps. Last night, he was talking about looking for Bigfoot in Montgomery County.


Your Uncle Ambrose and Aunt Victoria


Larry Penkava, a writer for Randolph Hub, limits his exotic plants to crabgrass. Contact: 336-302-2189, larrypenkava@gmail.com.