So moving back to a more rural community has its perks.
One of those perks is that you sometimes don’t need to have a garden of your own to benefit from farm fresh produce. And when I say farm fresh, I mean there are times that friends will call and say that whatever you pick, you get to keep, because their crops have produced more than they can handle. You just can’t get fresher than that.
My sister has been in green bean purgatory, because she’s been doing nothing but snapping and canning green beans for weeks. My neighbor offered up some really great rhubarb a few weeks ago. And this weekend, I got two calls asking if I wanted sweet corn.
I love sweet corn. I love corn on the cob, especially if its grilled in the husk. And canned corn just never quite tastes the same, probably because my parents had a garden when I was a kid, and I remember watching Mom cut it off the cobs to freeze for the winter. It just tastes better when it’s home grown. Something about it being crisper, even after months in the freezer. I remember husking corn as a kid. I hated it (and still do), but it’s worth the effort because it’s just that good.
So when my cousin’s wife called and offered me some of her corn, my thought had been to grill some and freeze some, and I was pretty happy. She brought me a a little over a dozen ears of corn. That would have made a nice dinner for me and a friend and probably enough for a single freezer portion for later. I held it for Saturday night.
I called my mother on Saturday, and she told me that a family friend had called and told her to come get some sweet corn from her field. I offered to come and help her, hoping to snag a little for myself. I hadn’t been planning to be out in a cornfield. I was in capris and a nice shirt and flip flop sandals, having just come from a writer’s meeting at the Mechanicsburg library. I grew up in the country; I know that’s not really farm attire.
That being said, we weren’t going to be out there long. The plan was to fill two decent sized boxes, go back to Mom’s house, divvy them up and start shucking and cutting and boiling corn for freezing. It shouldn’t take more than fifteen or twenty minutes to fill those boxes, so I didn’t run back to my house for sturdier footwear or appropriate clothing. That decision came back to haunt me later.
We got out to the field, and realized that there had been others picking as well; we needed to get deeper into the rows to get to ears that were ripe enough for picking. We left the boxes on the ground on the edge of the field and headed into the rows, bringing out armloads of corn to fill the boxes on the ground. Just as we were headed in for our last armloads, the skies opened and it began to rain. Hard. In fact, it was raining harder than I’d seen it rain for a long time. It rained hard enough that it felt like we were standing in the middle of a waterfall.
I didn’t get very far. I’d grabbed the larger box and the bottom fell out of it, sending all of those ears of corn to the ground. Mom scooped up some, and I grabbed an armload and the box, so that we could at least put the bigger box back together in the back of the car and fill it, using the one that was still intact to go back after the rest of the corn we’d picked. We slipped and slid out of our shoes as we went up and down the embankment, grabbing the rest of what we’d picked. Mom turned the car around, and we got in, soaked clear through.
My hair was so wet, it looked like I’d just gotten out of the shower. I couldn’t see anything, because the lenses to my glasses were dripping with water. Mom’s mascara was running, and it was raining so hard that we could hardly see out the windshield with the wipers on high. Mom asked me to reach in the glove compartment because she kept, in her words, “a whole bunch” of paper napkins in there, and maybe we could wipe off our faces.
There was one napkin.
I gave it to her since she was driving, and tried to wipe off my glasses with the hem of my sopping wet shirt. Needless to say, it didn’t work well, especially because I was laughing so hard I was crying.
Less than four miles down the road, the rain quit as abruptly as if someone had shut off a faucet. The roadway was bone dry. We dissolved into giggles again, and by the time we got back to her house, we hadn’t stopped laughing yet. Our shoes were making wet sloppy squishy noises as we unloaded the car, and divided up the corn.
I ended up taking my share and going home. I don’t live with my folks, don’t have any clothes there, and Mom and I don’t wear the same size. Getting into dry clothes was only going to happen if I drove home. I hauled all that corn back to my house, and put it all on the kitchen table for the night. I didn’t even want to look at it. Luckily someone else offered to make me dinner last night, and I was only too happy to accept.
Today I shucked it, cut it, and boiled it. I’m waiting now for it to cool enough to portion out for freezer portions. I ended up giving someone else some of my haul, and still ended up cutting and cooking nearly three dozen ears. It smelled so good that when it was done boiling, I had to spoon up a bowl for a late lunch for myself.
And yes, it was all worth it. It’s just as good as I remember.
I’ll just have to remember to take a rowboat the next time.