Northeast Times

A story that couldn’t get any cornier

Our neigh­bors are down the shore.

The moun­tain/lake diehards, our friends since we wheeled ba­bies in their car­riages, are cel­eb­rat­ing the end of sum­mer in the Po­conos.

And my hus­band and I are pulling up to the loc­al farm stand with the de­light of kids rush­ing out to play in kinder­garten.

We head for our fa­vor­ite spot, the old table heaped with our own ver­sion of pir­ate’s booty. We dig in.

My hus­band does the fi­nal pick­ing be­cause he claims the bet­ter cre­den­tials — Vic grew up on a New Jer­sey farm and has those pro­duce genes in his fa­vor. After some de­lib­er­a­tion, he presents them to me: six per­fect, fresh, gor­geous ears of sum­mer corn. Not much of a gift, you say? Then you don’t know corn and its ca­pa­city to de­light the soul.

Corn is hon­est and simple food. Corn, you can trust. Some of my hap­pi­est child­hood memor­ies are wrapped around corn: where I was when I ate it, who was there with me and yes, how those crisp, steamy ker­nels burst in­to sweet­ness in my mouth. I can re­mem­ber husk­ing corn with my cous­ins on the porch of the sea­shore house we shared for years, and I can still sum­mon up the tri­umphant feel of eager little hands strip­ping the husks from each ear.

It was all so fool­ishly won­der­ful, as in­no­cent and sweet as the corn that had been picked when its tas­sels were moist and silky still. That re­mem­ber­ing brings a lump to my throat. Dec­ades later, I can still re­sur­rect the smell of the sea­shore air and the feel of those stalks in my hands. Our fam­ily had an on­go­ing de­bate: it boiled down to white vs. yel­low corn, and I’ll spare you the sound and fury of our battles ex­cept to say that my fath­er and I were hol­d­outs for yel­low. I still think we were right.

When our own daugh­ters were small, we in­tro­duced them to a treat that reached bey­ond candy or cup­cakes or even ice cream — or so we told them.

Ba­sic corn on the cob — fresh from the field and cooked as simply as pos­sible in a huge pot that steamed up the kit­chen win­dows — be­came a guar­an­tee of in­stant grat­i­fic­a­tion.

While there were plenty of things that dis­ap­poin­ted them — less-than-loy­al friends, bul­lies, teach­ers who were mean — corn nev­er, ever did.

Jill, Amy and then Nancy re­vealed per­son­al­ity traits in the won­der­fully di­verse and telling ways they ap­proached their corn.

Jill, the pa­tient, con­tained sis­ter, could linger over her prize, sav­ing the best - the ker­nels around the middle of the cob - for last.

Amy, al­ways a bit more im­petu­ous, would dive in and de­vour.

And Nancy, the per­fect blend of her sis­ters, was meth­od­ic­al only after a kami­kaze start.

I was think­ing of all this on the re­cent sum­mer night when my hus­band and I sat at the kit­chen table pos­it­ively ex­ult­ing in plump, ripe Jer­sey to­ma­toes and steam­ing ears of corn.

The col­ors - the tex­tures - and yes, the glor­i­ous tastes seemed a re­mark­able gift on this stifling, sum­mer night when the world was in its usu­al mess.

The si­lence between us was that ab­so­lutely com­fort­able kind. I think a good 10 minutes went by without a single word be­ing spoken.

But I can tell you that two old-mar­rieds sat at that fa­mil­i­ar kit­chen table as twi­light settled re­mem­ber­ing that simple pleas­ures are some­times the best ones of all.

We were tem­por­ar­ily free of work bur­dens, anxi­et­ies about this grand­child or that one, the drudgery of house­hold chores, the re­lent­less bar­rage of an­oth­er an­chor­man re­mind­ing us that wars still rage and hu­man be­ings still murder one an­oth­er.

We si­lently cel­eb­rated noth­ing more - or less - than the pleas­ures of fresh corn and sum­mer to­ma­toes, gladly eaten in a safe and cher­ished home.

In the dis­tance, a dog barked and a child laughed. It was the fi­nal days of the good old sum­mer­time. And there was corn in our lives.

It was more than enough for us. ••

You can reach at pinegander@aol.com.

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