Saturday, July 21, 2012

I love corn. I'm not crazy about summer's heat, but fresh sweet corn in season is like a gift from Heaven, as far as I'm concerned.  When I was a child growing up on the farm, my dad would plant one or two long rows of sweet corn in the middle of one of his commercial cornfields, and when the corn was ripe it was an orgy of culinary delight.  We would eat fresh-from-the-field corn on the cob several evenings a week, and Mom would try to freeze enough to last the family through the coming year.
We would drive the car out into the cornfield and begin walking the row, looking for the ripest ears. I seem to remember that we husked the corn right there in the field, throwing the husks on the ground to be ploughed back into the soil to enrich it for coming years, but I might be wrong about that.  I know that we would fill the car with corn: the trunk would be packed as well as the floor in the front and back seats, and I would ride home with a pile of golden goodness between my feet.
Back at home, Mom would set the big kettle to boil on the stove and dig out the corn cutter, a device that would remove the kernels from the cob in short order, as well as a bit of finger if she wasn't careful!  We kids would carry in the ears and pile them in great heaps that covered the kitchen table, and then we'd sit removing corn silks (did you know that every silken thread is connected to a kernel, and that if the pollen from the corn tassel does not touch the silk, the kernel won't develop?).
Once the ears were clean, they were plopped into the kettle to be blanched.   The pale butter yellow of the kernels bloomed into a rich gold.  Steam and the scent of cooking corn filled the house.  After a brief bath in the boiling water, the ears were pulled out and plunged into a sink full of cold, cold well water to halt the cooking process and then stacked on the counter to await their turn at the cutter.  Mom worked quickly to cut off the kernels and pack them into freezer boxes, then marked the containers with the contents and date and stacked them to await their long, cold rest.
When I was little, the chest freezer in our basement was always filled with meat, vegetables and fruit from our farm or from nearby orchards.  When the freezer was too full, we took the food into a locker plant in town, where we would rent a drawer to store the excess.  I never got to see the storage units, and I'm sorry now.  I'm sure they were nothing like the very cold dresser drawer that I imagined as a child!
It was such a long time ago, but I remember it so clearly and with great love.  The smell of the cornfield, the hot summer sun, the occasional sting of a corn leaf as it cut my skin.  The sound of the husks being pulled from the ears and of the cutter removing the kernels from the cobs.  My mother working so very hard to feed her husband and four children, wiping the sweat from her face, singing, chattering away as she worked. Our fingers stealing a bit of sweet, fresh-cut goodness and popping it into our mouths.  
Supper, during canning season, was often bologna sandwiches and potato chips eaten in the living room in front of the TV.  We rarely had bologna sandwiches for supper and we NEVER ate in the living room, but on those evenings, Mom was too exhausted and the kitchen was too hot for our usual farm supper.
There is a local family who grow the BEST sweet corn every summer.  Thursday evening, I stopped at their farm just as they were bringing fresh-picked ears in from the field. $4.50 for fifteen ears of sweet deliciousness!  A friend once told me that the BEST way to eat sweet corn is to take a small table, a large pot of water, a camp stove, butter and salt out to the vegetable garden.  Light the stove, bring the water to a boil and then walk into the corn rows, pick an ear, husk it, silk it, boil it and eat it, standing beside the garden.  I agree, but as I do not have a vegetable garden this year, I'll buy my corn from the Stears family, and eat as much as I can hold for as long as the season lasts.

Reunion time
 Robby and me in the lake at my family reunion. 
And now, a brief moment of whining.  I don't usually do this, I don't air my entire life online, don't live my disappointments on Facebook, but I'm just wishing.
I wish that I could have a brief period of only GOOD news, that my son could begin making some SMART decisions, that my grandkids could have safe, stable, loving lives every single day, that things could go smoothly JUST ONCE.  Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know 'we cannot control the wind, we can only adjust our sails' but couldn't we have just a bit of smooth sailing?  I know there are lots of folks much worse off, that I've had a fairly easy life, but....I'm tired.
I'm ok.  I don't need hugs or prayers or good thoughts. There is nothing that anyone can do to help, I just need a bit of peace, a short period of calm, a time of rest.  A good night's sleep would help.
It's been hot and dry here, the grass in the yard is mostly brown and dormant, and we've set record-high temperatures; over 100F for several days in June and July already.  This picture was taken at 9:00 in the evening.  Rain finally came this past week, bringing cooler temps with it.  I fear that it will be too late to save some of the dry-land crops, where the corn stalks stand brown along the edges of the fields, wrapped in tightly-furled leaves.

And I close with a summer song...I do like winter best, but I love this song!

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