Questions of Plenty

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This October has brought on yet another different season at The Garden Corner. This year, 2023, draws dangerously close to an end as the leaves begin to change and fall. We have made it through an early planting season, a rainy spring, the appearance of quite a hot summer, and now a wonderful lull of fall that has made its presence known slowly but surely through typical signs. 

The first sign was some empty tables, as summer annuals were removed from the colorfully organized sections. The second was the perennials, slowly returning to their roots, all obvious signs of life from above ground disappearing. The third, much to my delight, was the extended time spent sipping a hot drink and chatting at the coffee bar every morning. 

What is normally a “quick” chat about the weekend activities and the daily tasks ahead of us has slowly expanded to a debate on various topics of interest. Salem, the garden cat, curls up in J-Dogg’s arms, and Mocha, the garden dog, curls up at my feet, impatiently waiting for her morning treat. It is a habitual gathering as we sip and discuss everything from Formula 1 to the fall of the Roman Empire, secretly solving all of the world’s problems through debate and exploration. 

Most of the conversation is simply observed by myself, led mainly by J-Dogg and Mr. David. My role, as the younger generation in the conversations, is to utilize the internet from my phone to search for some particular information to support one query or another. The hunt recently sent me to find what a typical Japanese daily breakfast might look like. Another time, my mission was to find the exact character development progression of Phil in the 1993 film Groundhog Day. I take my role as a designated researcher very seriously, as it often clarifies the importance of what exactly we are discussing. 

The other morning, while particularly drizzly, a conversation was started by my interest. I was multi-tasking, of course. I unloaded a container of fall decorations, while sipping my coffee, mainly avoiding the unpredicted (by my glance at the sky rather than the weather app) rain as I had forgotten my waterproof layer for the day. 

I unboxed the dried fruit, preserved seed pods, glittery leaves, and velvety vines. All decorations were necessary for the official start of the holiday season. At the bottom of the box, neatly nested, was a collection of cornucopia. I pulled apart each basket one by one, admiring the unique shape and size individually. It then dawned upon me, that I did not know the history of the cornucopia, otherwise referred to as the horn of plenty. So, of course, I asked the wisdom holders around me, as one does during morning coffee.

I was met with an unexpected silence. Usually, one person has some previous knowledge on any topic of choice, but my inquiry was met with more questions. So, of course, I picked up my phone and searched the quick notes version of the origins of cornucopias. 

My elementary education had firmly planted it as a crucial symbol for the celebration of Thanksgiving; however, I was impressed to find that the traditional tale went back much farther than expected. The earliest mention of the symbol was Greek, and the stereotypical image of wicker and branches was replaced by the image of an evergiving goat’s horn. 

The entry-level information satisfied my quizzical hunger for an answer, and I was able to continue with the day quite pleased that I had learned something new. Solving the mystery of the horn of plenty made me think of how we solve questions in the garden. 

I have seen gardener after gardener reach out to us with their inquiries, a habit we very much encourage. Some reach us through texting and photos, while others physically bring in a sample of the issue they are experiencing in their garden. Both parties are searching for an answer. 

Like many of our coffee bar questions, normally, our experiences in life provide us with the knowledge to reply. Sometimes, it is something that we have to do a little research before answering, just to clarify that our assumptions are correct. Other times, it is simply a matter of, dare I say, trial and error, where on the other side of our test, we will be rewarded with the answer. 

Both in daily discussion and in the garden, the questions will be thought through, researched, experienced, and answered. All of this goes to say, in my opinion, we should all be encouraged through the end of 2023 (and beyond) to take a little more time to drink our coffee, ask more questions, and continue learning every day. 

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