The Fleeting Days of Corn

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Tiny rows that look like pale yellow baby teeth greeted me as I carefully shucked the corn brought in from the back yard a little over a week ago. This year’s harvest was bountiful—having for the most part escaped the eager teeth of gopher and rat—nearly twenty stalks lay at my feet in the backyard. I yanked the bushy tuft of reddish hair atop each ear and quickly yanked the green husk down to reveal the gorgeous crispness inside. One after another into the waiting bucket before the Cute Gardener would tenderly slice the kernels from the cob in the kitchen—half remaining for a summer salad lunch and the other half to be frozen for later in the year when we might be tweaked by particular cravings of the long lost summer. Before emptying the bucket, I snatched an ear and bit into its crisply sweet top, typewriter-chewing my way around its circumference in the way that a garden pest might. It was too irresistible not to try a piece of the vegetable raw, fresh from the garden and at its optimal best.

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As we enjoyed our salads later, naked and spent cobs simmered on the stove in the first of what would be hours toward making a concentrated corn stock verging on syrup for experiments in the future. Would we try it out in a loose corn bread, whip it into a soufflé of some sort or use it as a base for chowder? We would decide later. For now, in our bowls a tumble of lukewarm kernels were playing nice with a casual toss of minisculely-diced avocado, cucumber, and basil chiffonade and the slightest drizzle of oil. Just enough to coat all the ingredients but not too much lest the corn not be the star of the show—a show that is so fleetingly seasonal that it offers one or two weeks of crop at the most, something to be savored and enjoyed in those lucky years when the moles in their bunkers and holes decide to share with us humans who have so painstakingly grown the wares.

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Experiments in modern day sautéed pork succotash ensued for dinner followed by another fresh luncheon salad tumbled with tomato but I fear our supply is now running low. I can only see only three spindly stalks from my office window bending in the heat like taffy, tired from bearing the brunt of such abundance.

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