Opinion: Locals enjoy coffee shop turned newsroom

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This time of year I find myself thinking about the New York Times. Not the newspaper, but Edna’s Grocery and Coffee Shop at the edge of the lake in Cordova, Minn.

Cordova is a wide spot on a farm road in Le Sueur County, an area better known as the Valley of the Jolly Green Giant. While there are many things that distinguish Le Sueur County in Minnesota, what with all those vegetables, about the only thing of distinction in Cordova is Edna’s Grocery and Coffee Shop.

All told, there are some dozen large farms around the lake, and about another dozen smaller ones. Most of them grow green beans, corn or carrots for the Green Giant Company.

The others grow feed corn and soybeans along with some milk cows and beef cattle. No one knows why, but one of the largest operations in the area is owned by Lars Swenson and has broken with tradition and raises nothing but pigs. Folks seldom talk about this except when the wind changes and reminds them of it.

Everybody in the Cordova area usually manages to stop in at Edna’s at least once during the day to catch up on the news. They walk in, order a cup of coffee and a slice of Edna’s Macintosh apple pie, slip into a booth and join the conversation.

No one is actually in charge of the news at Edna’s, although Edna does jot down notes of significance from time to time.  It’s more like everyone brings their own piece of the news and adds it to the mix.

It generally takes about an hour and two cups of coffee to get all the news. The place has always been known as Edna’s, but one day after a particularly newsy afternoon, someone remarked that it was “just like the New York Times.” Everyone seemed to agree, and the name stuck.

I think about Edna’s this time of year because it’s October, and things are beginning to slow down around Cordova. All the vegetables have been harvested. Everybody’s garden has been dug up, the feed corn and soybeans are in, and the air carries the heavy smell of apples.

It’s quiet around the lake and folks show up at Edna’s a little earlier than usual, and they stay a little longer. It’s here they learn that May Carlisle’s hens stopped laying earlier than usual, and that Herb Griswald’s prize milk cow has given birth to twin calves.

Soon the lake will freeze and the men will be occupied with ice fishing. Of course, they’ll still stop in at Edna’s to take the chill off and catch on all the news that’s fit to be told.


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