Hello and good day!
I solved a mystery yesterday.
The parking lot in front of one of our chocolate shops is filled with trees. The property manager does a good job on the landscaping.
There are planter boxes scattered all over and with autumn upon us, the leaves have turned a beautiful bright orange red. What I always forget about fall is that once the leaves shed from trees, you are left with barren limbs.
The pretty leaves pile up on the ground, turn from red orange to brown, and ultimately have to be raked up and discarded. Bald hibernating plants let you know that winter is coming.
Now here is what has vexed me over the last year.
There are always a million crows flying around and swooping down in the center's parking lot. You see them gathered on the ground, hopping, fighting over littered food scraps.
You also see them sitting on building roofs and roosting on top of tall light polls when they have time to kill.
But the number of crows I see perched on top of buildings and up on lamp posts always seems paltry in comparison to the congregations of birds I see squabbling on the parking lot floor.
I've stopped and looked around at least twenty times over this last year trying to figure out where they are all disappearing to. I've posited that maybe the flocks are transitory going from one parking lot to another.
However, I've never seen the sky filled with incoming flocks of crows.
It doesn't seem like they are coming and going. It seems like they are always there. And if they are always there, they must be hiding out somewhere.
Yesterday I took a shift out in the cold with my free hot chocolate sign. It was grey and misty out.
My hands, face, and the toes in my shoes, numbed very quickly. Drops of near freezing dew settled on my nose.
I was enjoying the view of the hills around our city, dark green and gold forests of pines, firs, and maples, looking down on us city folks from up on high.
I felt a sting of lamentation in my heart seeing all those leaves stacking on the ground next to tree trunks.
The prettiest time of year, with its clear icy skies and the colorful bursts of plants making their transitions, won't be with us much longer. Soon the trees will be twiggy and empty, and their grey bark will bleed into the color of the grey sky.
A loud caw beckoned me. There they were, hidden in plain sight, right before my eyes.Crows were sitting on the branches of those small, now thinly foliated trees.
I'll be darned.
You can only see them there in winter. The rest of the year, they are covered up.
Solving that little riddle lifted my spirits quite a bit.
One of my favorite business books of all time is Zero To One by Peter Thiel. Towards the end of the book, there is a discussion about mysteries.
The discussion is part of a larger rumination about whether there are still opportunities available for building great businesses.
Thiel holds that as long as there are still mysteries in the world, as long as there are secrets that human beings have yet to discover, entrepreneurs will always have productive work to do.
My brother recently had stem cell treatment on one of his shoulders. The shoulder had already been surgically repaired but regressed to the point that my bro couldn't even lift his arm.
He's had surgery on both of his shoulders. Both were busted up from a decade of hauling innumerable 110-pound bags of cacao in the jungle every day for 8 months a year.
That is part of the price he's paid to bring our chocolate company into existence.
One of the surgeries held, the other didn't. The surgeon informed Brian that another surgery was not an option. There was no longer a surgical repair.
He opted for stem cell treatment 5 months ago and to a large extent his shoulder is cured. Brian has recovered normal function. It has been magnificent to watch.
Stem cells are mysterious and using them for treatment wasn't available just 5 years ago.
Another one of my favorite books is From Dawn to Decadence: 1500 to the Present: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life by Jacques Barzun.
The book's thesis is that a culture reaches decadence once all adventures have been exhausted. All that is left is to enjoy sensual pleasures.
The time for striving and building and discovering and innovating is in the past.
Barzun concludes that the West reached a state of decadence by the turn of the 21st century and that the east was now experiencing a new dawn.
Far be it for me to argue with somebody like Barzun who knew so much about the world.
However, I can't help but add a caveat to his view of the west.
We all choose for ourselves whether we want to live decadently or not.
The zeitgeist may be towards reaping and consuming rather than clearing and planting. But that doesn't mean that you and I can't pursue mysteries and adventures on our own say so.
The crows are in the trees.
Stem cells rebuild tissue.
There is a lot to discover, many new dawns to live through.
Along these lines, I'd like to let you know about a new product that we just put online. These are hugely popular in our retail locations.
Our wonderful chocolatier and culinary adventurer Javier Valencia developed them.
We take dried apricots, coat them in our delicious 68% Fortunato No. 4 dark chocolate, and then sprinkle them with cayenne pepper.
These are my brother Brian's favorites.
I tend to be biased against spice. I generally opt for food with limited heat.
However, in preparation for making this announcement, I spent some time with a bag of these beauties.
They aren't over the top spicy.
The cayenne comes on at the end.
Dried apricots are tart and have a lovely jelly texture.
Our coating of 68% dark chocolate on the outside adds sweetness, but not too much, and also contributes a wonderful creaminess to the mouthfeel.
If it wasn't for the cayenne, these would be extremely addictive.
The texture is so very pleasing.
But then comes the spice.
For me, after three apricots the accumulated spice was enough to snap me out of the relaxed, gurgling, unconscious chewing state I'd drifted into.
The heat keeps you honest.
There are many health benefits to eating dark chocolate apricots that I don't have space to get fully into.
Suffice it to say that dark chocolate is very heart friendly, and apricots are high in vitamin c and soluble fiber.
A quick google search will add complimentary information to my three nutrition facts above.
We will continue to add new products both online and in our shops whenever our imagination and taste buds inspire us to do so.
Creative expression and the treasure hunt are what keep business and life fresh and fun year after year.
They are the antidote to decadence.
To learn more about our Fortunato No. 4 68% Dark Chocolate Cayenne Apricots, simply click the link below.
Thank you so much for time today.
I hope that you have a truly blessed day!
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