Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Sweet corn... SOLS

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.  

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.  

My mom and I shuck the large pile of tasselled ears out in the garage, accumulating husks and corn silk by the wheelbarrow-full.  She uses her electric knife plugged into two extension cords to shave each kernel from the each ear, letting them plop line by line into her large Tupperware bowl.  When mounds of juicy sweet corn cascade over its edges, I arrive to fill my two stockpots, warm and ready.

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.

After dinner, my avocado green measuring cup dips into the shallow Pyrex, scoops up its golden yield, and drops two-cups worth into each baggy.   Again and again, my left hand instinctively flattens its contents while my right zips over the blue and green lock-tight tracks.  


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.

Write on,

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Simply complex... SOLS

The conversation drifted into our sunny playdate like an errant cloud.  

"Mommy, my flower died," Reid held up the sponge-painted clay pot he created for my Mother's Day gift this year.  We were in the middle of building castles and mountain-covering roads in our backyard sandbox yesterday. 

"We can plant another one in there if you'd like. I bet we'd find a nice flower at Home Depot..." I encouraged.

"Does everything die?" his newly four-year-old voice crafted tiny, innocent words.

"Yes.  Everything dies...when it's time."  My calm exterior hid the storm of explanations churning inside my mind.

He added support for my claim, "Flowers die.  Bugs die.  Even PEOPLE die, Mommy."


I avoid the topic like the plague in books and stories and even in real-life. I don't know how to explain it.  What, we're alive...and then we're not...it's like sleep -- no, scratch that...you'll be afraid to go to sleep tonight -- and then we'll wake up in heaven. 

Around Easter, the question du jour was, "How do we get to heaven, Mommy?  Will we take the car?"

Gosh, I hope not. That's my worst fear.  WORST.

He broke into my thoughts, "Well, how do we die?"

From the rolodex of possible scenarios, I picked the easiest.  "Someday, when you're old, your heart will just stop beating...because it's tired and you've lived a long, happy life."

"Will you die?"  The small words exploded like faulty fireworks sputtering along the driveway.

Lord, give me wisdom to answer this sensitive child.

"Yes.  I'll die someday when I'm old and you're old."

"Will you come back then?"

"No.  When we die, it is forever.  But, I'll be in heaven with Jesus and you will too someday.  Then, we'll be together again."

"Don't die, Moooooommmmmmmyyyyyy," his little voice pleaded.

"Are you scared that I will?"

My heart lay bare in the afternoon sun, writhing in the depths of the unknown...  My fears.  His fears.  They mixed in a way only abstract artists appreciate. 

"Yessssss.  If you do then I won't HAVE a mommy."

While two chocolatey eyes searched mine, I wrestled God to gift me with enough time on Earth to raise these two blessed cherubs.  Thoughts of my cousin's two small children -- losing their own mommy at ages seven months and four years -- competed mercilessly.

"I'll always be your mommy," I cooed as he slid into my lap and curled up like his two-year-old self, "and I'll always love you.  Soooo much." 


With only a second's pause, he climbed back toward the sandbox and grabbed his favorite plastic digger from the gritty pile of toys.

"Let's build another road, Mommy."

And just like that, the sun reappeared and the project resumed.

But he has me thinking...

Write on,