September 13th, 2009

Sweet Corn

We have sweet corn tonight. Of all the crops you can grow for yourself, sweet corn is the one that is always clearly and unmistakably superior when grown at home. Even corn bought from a farmer wearing black suspenders and an old panama hat on the roadside, even if the tobacco chewing old geezer pulled the ears that very morning, the corn has begun to deteriorate by the time it is at table.

corntassleI pulled the first half dozen ears of corn from our sweet corn patch before I sat down to write this and Rebecca is heating water now. earofcornThe ears are not as ripe as I like them. They remain at the blister stage; the milk in the kernels is still watery. In another three or four days, the milk will be opaque, but not starchy yet, which is  perfect for me. Rebecca and my father (when he was still alive) prefer the corn at the blister stage.

I planted two varieties of yellow sweet corn, just like my father always did: Kandy Korn and Golden Jubilee. Kandy Korn ripens a little earlier for us than Golden Jubilee, but I think Golden Jubilee has better flavor even though Kandy Korn is an “extended sugar” variety which is purported to be sweeter than the old style Jubilee. By planting two varieties that mature at different times, the corn season is a little longer. There will be plenty of corn for us and a few others, but the crop is nothing like the bounty I imagined when I planted. I had hoped to take bushel after bushel to the food bank. There may be a chance for that yet, but I have doubts.

I’m not a good farmer for a number of reasons. I travel too much, which means I am discussing computer configuration management in San Jose or New York when a farmer would be out in the garden. A flush of Canadian thistles will not wait for the return flight from SFO. A loose coupling that holds the Alaska run from Las Vegas to Bellingham on the runway in the desert for 4 hours does not slow up the quack grass. I marvel that I travel at six hundred miles per hour thirty thousand feet above the ground, and the weeds sit still at zero feet, they win.cornfield

Second, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and the after effects of the septal myectomy which I had last November  tire me easily. Many evenings, I am too tired to weed and hoe like a serious farmer.

Finally, I lack knowledge and skill. I am a computer programmer and a crypto-chinese scholar, not a true farmer.  I did not adjust my cultivator properly and plant accurately. The rows in my corn field are uneven and hard to follow, wandering like a dog on a hunt. Unlike my father who operated his tractor with delicacy and refinement that demolished weeds without ever touching a crop, I am clumsy and obliviously destroy great swaths of corn in seconds as I wollow through the cornfield on my tractor.

No matter. We have sweet corn tonight.

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