Lucy Voss (aka Scorpio) sheds light on the nuances of individual tarot cards by bringing them to life in her tarot-inspired fiction.
Know Your Onions
The Flower Show took place every year at the end of summer. Everyone was encouraged to submit an arrangement, and there were categories for the children, usually involving wild flowers and jam jars. The Queen of Pentacles was no longer allowed to exhibit as she always won, even when she made every effort not to, so she took charge of the tea tent and also the home produce stall to which people (including the Queen) contributed home-produced cakes, jams, chutneys, herbs and anything else edible that people might like.
There was a section for home-grown vegetables. The Judges always said that nicely-grown and -tasting vegetables were the aim, but there was always competition for the largest of anything that could be grown. “At least,” said Justice, one of the Judges, to her fellow Judge, Judgement, “it is probably too early for pumpkins. I cannot see the purpose of extremely large pumpkins.” “Ego,” said Judgement drily.
Early on the morning of the show people began to arrive with their contributions. There was no worry this year that exhibits would wilt in the heat. The weather had decided to provide an early hint of the autumn that would inevitably arrive before too long so there was a procession of people in wet coats and heavy shoes trying to protect their bowls and jars of flowers from the gusting wind.
The vegetable section was set up first: a selection of Nine Wands’s carrots “Though of course,” he said, “the best ones got eaten by something.” followed by Seven Pentacles’s onions and potatoes “I was very pleased when I got these out of the ground, it’s always tempting to poke around and have a look before they are ready, but I didn’t.” And some over-long runner beans from Three Swords. “These haven’t come out so well this year.” “You always say that,” said Five Pentacles. “All I’ve got is these ratty-looking courgettes.” “And you always say something like that,” said Seven Pentacles. “You should read the book before planting, or watch the gardening programmes.”
Seven Pentacles wandered over to another corner where The Star, The Empress and Temperance were setting up a small selection of therapeutic plants. “Those look in poor shape,” he said. “The untidier they are the better, as a rule,” said the Empress. “Tidy plants don’t usually make good tea, for example. We want to keep the essence intact,” she added. “Dead rose petals,” said Seven scornfully. “Basis for pot pourri, add drops of rose oil and you get a lift for when you feel down,” said the Star. “Makes you feel hopeful.” “Do you eat it?” asked Seven making as if to sample the rose petals. “Get back to your onions,” said Temperance, “you know them, you don’t know pot pourri.”
When Seven Pentacles returned to the vegetable corner he found more exhibits had arrived, but he thought his looked the best. While he was admiring his onions again a figure approached and placed a small trug on on the table. The men gathered round “What’s that?” asked Nine Wands, eyeing the trug suspiciously. “A display of home-grown vegetables and fruit,” said the figure pulling back its hood and revealing itself as Nine Pentacles.
“That’s an arrangement,” said Seven Pentacles. “We don’t do arrangements, we display our vegetables, like this,” and he pointed to the neat rows of identical carrots, small mounds of potatoes and onions, a shallow dish of glowing plums.
“Well I’m exhibiting my fruit and veg like this,” said Nine Pentacles.
“You’ve got flowers and grass in there,” said Five Pentacles.
“Herbs, and edible flowers,” replied Nine Pentacles. “They all count.”
Everyone went home to lunch and the judges went round. Seven Swords got a “commended” for an original creation of seven-differently sized flower sticks with plants winding up them; Wheel of Fortune won a prize for a maze-like coil of leaves and flowers; the Tower did a startling arrangement of tall red and orange flowers.
“I need my sunglasses for that one,” said Judgement.
“Well, I hope it doesn’t collapse before the end of the afternoon,” replied Justice. “It doesn’t look very steady.”
They moved on to the vegetables. “It’s no contest, really,” said Justice.
“There’ll be a rumpus if we do award that one first prize,” replied Judgement.
“Well, it’s not Chelsea, with loads of rules,” said Justice, “they’re asked for a display of vegetables, and a display is what we’ve got in that basket.”
“True,” said her colleague, “and it makes a nice change to see someone listening to their inner promptings and using their imagination – it’s still a display, as you say.”
Judgement and Justice withdrew to have a light lunch provided by the Queen of Pentacles in a corner of the tea tent. “Did you see my cousin Nine’s arrangement?” asked the Queen. “When she has the time she has very green fingers …… she must have been at home more this year …. sometimes she is away for quite long spells.”
People returned early in the afternoon to view the exhibits and to see what prizes they had won. Seven Pentacles huffed at only being “commended.”
“As I said, that’s an arrangement, it’s not proper vegetables like mine. And what’s that box doing there?” During the break a box had appeared among the other vegetables. It contained a selection of produce, packed carefully but not displayed like those in the trug exhibited by Nine Pentacles.
A tall young man in a gaudy jumper appeared beside the vegetable exhibits. “Well we were asked to exhibit vegetables so I got these from the organic veg box shop down the road.”
“You mean you bought them?” asked Seven.
“Yeah, why not? Just like she bought hers.” and he pointed to Nine Pentacles’s trug. “They sell trugs of veg if you want them, she just added the flowers and herbs.”
“Here, you!” shouted Seven Pentacles as Nine approached. “You’ve cheated. You didn’t grow these at all, you bought them, just like he did.”
The judges were summoned, and people gathered round. “Hmm,” said Judgement, “the wrong sort of inner promptings.”
“Not necessarily,” said Justice, “it’s a matter of interpretation of the rules, and I’ve checked, and there aren’t any.”
Seven Pentacles overheard. “Let me see,” and he snatched at the paper in Justice’s hand. The spectators move closer to see what was going on. “It’s the spirit of the thing that matters,” said Seven crossly. “Flowers and veg, always homegrown, that’s part of the whole eth……eth….. thingy.”
“Ethos” said Judgement.
“Yeah, that,” said Seven.
“Why’s that dog tied to the table leg?” asked Nine Wands. “What dog?” asked several people.
“Dogs not allowed,” said Nine Wands.
“Oh, it’s mine,” said the young man in the gaudy jumper, “he comes with me everywhere.”
“That string doesn’t look very strong,” said Nine Pentacles, relieved that no-one was paying her attention any longer. “It should have a proper lead.”
“Nonsense,” said the young man “he’s quite safe …….”
“Not now he isn’t,” said Judgement as the dog, excited by the crowd, began to pull at its moorings.
“Nonsense,” said the young man again, just as the dog wrenched itself free of the table leg.
It was only a trestle, so not very steady. The table began to tilt, and the vegetables and “arrangements” begin to slide to the ground. The dog detected some interesting new smells. It poked around in its owner’s veg box, made as if to lift its leg over the disintegrating trug, and then discovered nice, round balls. Only they didn’t bounce.
“Leave my spuds alone,” shouted Seven Pentacles. He rescued most of them but the dog was too quick and made a dash for the door with the best potato in its mouth.
“Can’t you control your dog better, you young fool?”
But the young man in the gaudy jumper and his dog had vanished.