Each year, my mom and dad expectantly watch the progress of local fields. They keep in touch with their farmer friend, Doug, who grows the best crops just outside my home town. They let me know when it will be ready for the first picking. I wait as a child in line for a sprinkle-covered ice cream treat. This year, my timing is perfect -- the boys and I are visiting when the call comes.
"Jim, it's ready." Doug's voice bounds through the phone's receiver and across the kitchen to me. "How much would she like?"
"12 dozen, Doug. Can she pick it up at the farm this afternoon?"
"Sure, Buck. It'll be pulled and ready; bagged up for her. I'll help her load it when she gets here."
Relying on memories from summers past, I salivate despite the work ahead. It's worth it.
Grandma Lorraine's recipe is a tasty one; we use it each time we 'put up' corn. Which, as an aside, I used this term with my husband early in our marriage -- he looked at me, befuddled, at what this phrase could really mean in city-speak. I translated, "Freeze." A little sugar, a little salt, 10 cups corn, and some water in each pot...boil for seven minutes. That's it.
Over and over, I use my crocheted hotpads to transport the finished stockpots to empty Pyrex containers waiting on the kitchen table. This is where our golden treasure cools before bagging. This year, we're without fans to speed up the process...usually, the whirring blades surround our resting space like summer shade trees. At first, steam fogs the nearby windows. Little by little, the backyard returns to view.
Every once in a while, I tiptoe over to the table to sneak a bite. I'm providing the necessary quality control. I fancy myself an ice cream taste-tester; really, this is much better. It's the perfect marriage of salt and sweetness. Each bite reminds me of another summer, in another garage where I sat, toe-headed with a trendy Dorothy Hamill cut, observing as my mother and grandmother journeyed through the same ritual. Grandma always came to help. They'd giggle and chat while they shucked, cut, and cooked sweet corn. It felt more like a coffee date than a big, messy project.
Today, the baby sleeps while we shuck, cut, and cook. We snicker as Reid 'waters' my mom's plants that encircle their house like a multicolor necklace. We consider inviting Grandma; the high temperatures deter us. She's fragile now. My mom carries on the tradition -- she selflessly invites the mess and invests her time in my freezer-filling campaign.
Our bounty lies stacked like bricks at Fort Knox. The cookie sheets underneath secure its transport to the garage deep freeze to harden before the two-hour trip home.
"If you can ration this, b, your corn will last until next spring," my mathematical Dad figures.
"Yep..." I'm already dreaming of the comfortable happiness each serving will bring my family on hum-drum school nights. "It will."
That is, if I can exercise such restraint...
It's like candy. It always has been. And, there's a finite window each summer when it comes available, and if I'm lucky, I seize it.