Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Corn off the Cob

Although I love the taste and texture of fresh corn, eating corn on the cob has never been one of my favorite mealtime activities.  The corn takes up too much room on the plate, for one thing, and the butter runs off and pools under the cob instead of staying put. Those reasons are good, but what ruins corn on the cob for me is my memory of feeding the hogs on my dad’s farm.

In these days when the field corn has dried on its stalks, farmers drive huge John Deere combines through the field. They are called combines because the machine combines all tasks into one operation. It gobbles up the whole corn stalk, chops it up, removes the kernels from the cobs, spits out the debris and pours shelled corn into a waiting grain truck. A whole field is harvested in just a few hours.

In my dad’s day, corn was harvested by hand over a period of weeks. Dad would hitch up Babe and Belle to the farm wagon and drive to the beginning of a row of corn. He climbed down, pulled on his gloves, and twisted ears of dried corn off the stalks one by one, tossing them into the wagon while the big horses waited patiently. When Dad was ready to move down the row, he spoke softly to the team of horses, who moved forward until he called, “Whoa.”

Later Dad shucked the corn by hand and stored the golden ears in the corn bin, conveniently located on the side of the barn nearest the pig pen. Dad always kept several brood sows that produced litters of piglets twice a year. The dried corn on the cob was a principal part of their diet and when I helped Dad with the evening chores it was my job to fill a bucket with ears of corn and toss them over the fence into the pig pen. I was forbidden to go into the pen, for mature hogs are powerful and dangerous omnivores.

The sows were in hog heaven, crunching, snuffling, grunting, and slobbering as they stripped kernels from the cobs. Somehow, after witnessing their eating habits, I lost interest in eating corn on the cob.

A better way for humans to consume fresh corn is to heat some butter in a saucepan or skillet, cut the kernels off the cobs, put the corn kernels in the butter, and sauté them for a few minutes. Finish the dish off with some salt and pepper, and eat like a civilized person.

Copyright 2015 by Shirley Domer.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

In the Home Stretch

Coming home from the annual Colorado fishing trip we tripped along at 80 miles an hour along the interstate highway. Going 80 instead of 70 sped up the trip considerably. Before we knew it we were passing through Topeka, going into the home stretch.

While we were in Colorado I was going 80, too. Fortunately a lot of family members and friends were on hand to celebrate with me, thanks to their proximity in some cases, but principally because several of the men love fly fishing and wouldn’t miss it for love nor money.

Like the trip home from Colorado, my 80 years on earth seem to have sped by and I’m into the home stretch. In other words, I’m old and haven’t much more time to exist as a unique assemblage of atoms, atoms that will soon disintegrate, then individually go their merry ways to become parts of something or someone else.

All summer I ruminated about becoming an octogenarian. Was I ready to acknowledge being old? How would I handle old age? When would my trip home end? So far being 80 has not enlightened me on the answers to these questions.

All I can say is that this new decade started off with a bang-up party. Fourteen of us sat at picnic tables lined end to end beneath the towering mountains around us. There was a mountain of food including two cakes and my favorite ice cream. There were stories and hugs and generous gifts.

Dennis, as usual, gave me a new electronic device – this year a smart phone. I suspect he wants to keep my mind sharp by making me learn new things. In this case I have a lot to learn. I was excited about the phone’s camera and plunged right in to learning how to use it. After about 150 out-of-focus photos, I finally got a good one of this beautiful moth on our screen door.

Nearby, a six-inch-long praying mantis clung to the stone wall.

As age advances, the body slows down, but time speeds up. My friend Linda says that time slows down when we have changes of scene. I’d add that learning new things slows time down. I want to continue feeling that I have plenty of time, so I’ll strive to keep learning and going places. Maybe next year while Dennis goes fly fishing I will check in at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs for a week of luxurious living. By then I should have mastered my smart phone

Copyright 2015 by Shirley Domer