Corn Stalk Summer

November 18, 2010
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My sisters and I grew up in a Midwestern suburb. All five of us were ashamed of the fact that our grandparents were farmers. We hated the fact that we knew when the sweet corn was in season, or which orchards had the best apples. Our father was always telling us about the fields replaced by housing developments. he seemed so sad as he talked about the disappearing land. My sisters and I would roll our eyes, desperately wanting to get away. To move on to bigger and better things.

My older sister eventually did move on; she went to New York and never looked back. I'll be leaving soon; I plan to go west. Sometimes, like now, I wonder if I'll miss it. Will Halloween be the same if I can't go to the corn maze behind my school? I can't imagine springtime without going to the apple orchard my uncle owns, smelling the fresh dirt, watching my familiar flowers pop up.

Sitting her in the middle of my remaining sisters feels right and comfortable. The rift between us is mended, if only for a night. I smile as I teach my youngest cousin how to shuck the corn that I once resented. Laughing as his mouth widens in surprise as the sticky, sweet liquid runs over his pudgy fists. The smoke from our fire washes over us, connectin us all in a gray haze. And though no one will say it, we know this is the last time I will sit around our fire as a child. The last time time I come to this farm with an identity so deeply connected to my family.

when the meal is ready I stay on the porch with my sisters, and I eat with them instead of my aunts, cousins, uncles and grandmother. As the sun begins to set and the smoke from the extinguished fire lingers the fireflies begin to come out. I see my little cousin start chasing after them, a pink watermelon stain dribbled down his shirt. My youngest sisters join him. Soon I'm left alone, watching my sisters running around, their curly hair caught in the breeze. I lift my sweet corn to my lips, smelling the charcoal and salt, and I bite into the last sweet corn of the summer. I laugh as the warm butter slides down my chin and wipe it with my arm.

Later that night as we say our goodbyes, and I'm buckling my sister into her car seat, it occurs to me that I'm no longer ashamed. I'm proud that I had the chance to live in a place not yet destroyed by man. Where open fields are just as beautiful as a piece of art. I'm grateful to the Earth for teaching me how to love a withered corn stalk, or a mound of sweet smelling dirt. I'm proud that I can hold so many memories in a single ear of weet corn, that I can see the promise of a budding seed.





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