A botanical calamity – the grim legacy of the Relief Sale

A botanical calamity – the grim legacy of the Relief Sale

By: Reuben Ng

The decimated foliage of a once-affable fern. Further evidence that love, light, and water are not all a plant needs. Magic is required. PHOTO CREDIT: Reuben Ng

As funnies editor, it is my privilege to bring a small measure of hilarity to the doldrums of campus life.  But it is also my solemn duty to report news of a far more grave nature.  Today the truth must be revealed, a disheartening tale must be told, and tears should be shed as a result of the account which follows.

A great annual event in the vicinity of the City of Goshen is the Mennonite Relief Sale.  Every year vast crowds gather to observe the auctioning of complicated bed-linens, stand in interminable lines for a variety of unusual foods, and volunteer to help out with said observing, auctioning, and standing about.

Such fervent activity draws the attention of many local opportunists, none more aptly fitting this description than the average Goshen College student.  These individuals are known for many guileful endeavors.  Their exploits of local dumpsters have elicited attention by the local authorities.  Their ubiquitous presence at after-church meals is renowned.  Several ninjas have been spotted taking notes as students vanish out of the dining hall seemingly unencumbered by large quantities of fruit.

So it is of no great surprise that many college students appear at the Relief Sale seeking bargains that can be found in abundance just once a year and only at this location.  Some purchase food: a small meal, eccentric confections, cheeses perhaps.  The quilts draw a few casual observers, but they aren’t the real draw for the students.  A small crowd might stop at the open-air theater to catch the strains of tradition.  And yet, it is not for any of these reasons that the great majority of college students come to the Relief Sale.

They come for plants.

Nowhere else can houseplants be purchased with such wild abandon, with all monetary caution thrown to the wind, and with the thoughtless joy of small mammals frolicking in fields of wildflowers under a blue summer sky.  In less than two days, all but the most decrepit, badly potted plants have been sold for dreadfully trivial prices.

But now, I hope you see, the sad truth begins to make itself apparent.

Many of these plants are destined for a lingering death.  Over the next few weeks in dimly illuminated dorm rooms, on desks and tables around campus, and increasingly in compost and trash collections, these once admired houseplants wither, rot, and expire.

There is no circle of life for these unknowing plants, simply a road leading to the dead end of inexperience and negligence, i.e. 1700 South Main St., Goshen, IN 46526.

I myself purchased two already beleaguered ferns at the plant sale.  I convinced myself that I could nurse them back to health, that they would be my pride and joy, that they would be the envy of fern-owners the campus over.

But alas.

Today, among their woebegone fronds there is more brown than green.  They are brittle.  Dead.

I like to think I can take care of plants, I’ve sustained the lives of many over the years.  It is now clear to me that for a plant to thrive, it needs not just water, light, and love…it needs magic.  As we stand amongst the foliage at next year’s plant sale, we must understand the reality.  These brave, hopeful plants will soon be in the hands of average people, good people, caring people, but also people like us.

Record
Record
Written by Record

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