By Margaret Lucke
One reason that English is so delightful, and so befuddling to people who are trying to learn it as a second or third language, is that the same word or phrase can mean so many different things. For example, take stock of some of the ways to take stock.
To a cowboy, stock is the herd of animals being raised on a ranch or farm. In the 1870s and 1880s taking stock could mean a long, dusty journey driving cattle along the Chisholm Trail from Texas to Kansas.
A shopkeeper's stock is the goods on hand that are being offered for sale. Taking stock involves counting all of the items in the inventory -- fun if the shop is a bakery, a tedius undertaking if it's a hardware store.
A photographer who takes stock is shooting photos that others can use in ads, as book covers, as illustrations, and so on. Agencies handle the business end of licensing the rights. You can browse through millions stock photos on the Internet.
A cook thinks of stock as a rich broth made from bones and trimmings of meat and vegetables. Stock serves as the basis for soups, risottos, paellas, and many other delicious recipes. Take stock, put it on the stove, and get set to prepare a wonderful meal.
For an investor or a businessperson, stock is an ownership share, or many shares, of a publicly traded company. A corporate executive may take stock as part of a compensation package, hoping the value of the shares will go up.
To a gardener or a florist, stock is a flower of the species Matthiola incana, with a spicy scent and showy white, pink, or purple blooms. Take stock, and you have a beautiful addition to a garden or a bouquet.
And around this time, as the year winds down, a lot of us are taking stock -- by which we mean we’re reflecting on the events of the past twelve months, assessing our goals and achievements, and making our plans for 2015. We’re looking at where we are, how got here, and where we want to go.
I hope that your taking-stock process goes well, whatever that phrase means to you, and I wish abundant joy in this holiday season.