Husking Corn


When I was a little girl my family spent every weekend at my maternal grandparents’ house. By the time I came along my grandfather was retired and had sold his farm, but he still had apple, peach, pear and plum trees, grape arbors, a strawberry patch, and a huge garden. In the summer he would bring in armloads of paper grocery bags bursting with fresh Silver Queen corn, still warm from his field. My brother, sister and I would stand around a big, old-fashioned metal trash can on the back porch under the shelter of the tin roof of the carport and shuck the corn for dinner. There were seven of us back then and we could eat a lot of corn, so this was a major undertaking. The window air conditioning unit blasted its hot air into the sultry summer day, combining with the warmth of the day to create a heat so strong we could even smell the unmistakable scent of the paper bags rising around us. We would talk and shuck and laugh and see who could grab a husk near the top and, with just one tug, reveal the corn underneath. We’d pull silk until our fingers ached. Our forearms would get itchy, our palms sticky and our foreheads and napes of necks would run with sweat. When we were finally done with our task the reward was to go back inside, where my Nana, who was always too warm, kept the temperature icy. The difference between the air conditioned house and the sweltering porch was jarring in the most blessedly beautiful way. I still love fresh corn on the cob and I still enjoy husking it, as the process always takes me back to my grandparents’ porch. But I have never tasted any corn as good as that corn was. No lesson here, just a beautiful memory.


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