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The Last Windrow: Sweet corn

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Did you know that the world as we know it is based on sweet corn? Yes, this is a fact that has been proven over the ages and remains intact today. The world revolves around this ear of corn.

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Don’t believe it? Just saunter into any small, rural town café any day of the week around this time of year and listen to the conversations around the table. At some point, someone will ask someone else, “How’s your sweet corn doing?”

The table will suddenly be hushed as those who have no garden or have no urge to dig in the dirt all turn an ear to hear the reply. Visions of a plump ear of sweet corn slathered in melted butter and topped with salt float through their collective heads.

Corn has always been a popular commodity long before the time the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock and Squanto introduced those neophyte English people to corn. Those seasick souls may have perished if not for the cornfield. From there through American history, corn has been a staple and sweet corn even more desired.

Countries have fought wars over who owns the corn patch. Universities have created entire departments that deal only with growing corn. There probably would be no Jolly Green Giant if not for sweet corn. Actually, there would be no summer if not for sweet corn, for it is the one true sign that says summer is finally here! Watermelon comes in a distant 10th.

My dad always planted our sweet corn in the field alongside the field corn. There would be a space left available somewhere on the20-acre piece of land behind the house where he would fill the two-row planter with sweet corn kernels and put down 14 rows of sweet corn. The patch was always close to the kitchen so the corn could be easily toted to the waiting pot of boiling water.

Industries have grown up around sweet corn. There is a company that makes those cute little yellow ear holders that stab into each end of the cob. Personally, I just like to grab each end with my paws and go to it. Any festival worth its salt has food vendors who sell un-husked sweet corn to the throbbing crowd. Some companies selling fine dinnerware make special plates to hold an ear of corn. Roadside produce vendors start selling sweet corn long before it is ever ripe in the northern parts of the country, but that corn never seems as sweet as the corn we raise up here on the tundra. Maybe that’s because we have to wait so dang long to get it into our gullets.

There is no easy way to be neat about eating sweet corn. I’ve seen meticulous people who use a knife to slice off the kernels and delicately place it on their forks. I’m more into just diving in, butter running down my chin and using the typewriter method of removing the kernels. An eaten ear of corn from my plate looks like it was hit with shrapnel. Not pretty, but good!

Our sweet corn patch is just starting to tassel as I write this column. It’s a little late this year due to the late spring and cold weather, but it is heading skyward and within two weeks, I think my wife and I will be bringing it to the pot. Our neighboring town, Backus, is having a Corn Fest this weekend, so sweet corn time is near.

And, I’ll be mentioning my sweet corn crop at the morning coffee table. All ears will be tuned in.

See you next time. Okay?

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