THE INDEPENDENT Posted: Thursday, July 2, 2009 11:58 pm
When I was a kid, my Dad used to grow acres of Silver Queen corn.
To this day, it’s my preferred summer vegetable. For a few weeks out of the year, I savor every bite of that sweet white corn.
I eat it on the cob, buttered using a heel of bread and salted lightly — just like my Mom and Dad used to serve it sitting around our large wooden kitchen table.
Every time I chomp down on an ear the sweet aroma takes me back in time. Suddenly, I’m 10 years old, barefooted, freckled and blonde from too much sun and chlorine.
On those steamy summer mornings my father would wake me before dawn to help him pick. He’d crack the door to my room as he headed down the stairs and call out: “Carrie, you ready?”
A few minutes later we’d head out to the garden in front of our home or bounce down the road in his old work truck to another farm we also planted on.
Together, with pockets stuffed full of old feed sacks, we’d head down separate rows to pick the dozens of ears my mother and younger sisters would sell later in the day. We also sold tomatoes, peppers and eggs from the chickens we raised on the 22-acre farm we lived on in the heart of Blue Ash, Ohio.
All day long, car loads of suburbanites from the surrounding neighborhoods and cities would stop by for the corn. Some days we’d sell out long before rush hour and have to turn away dozens of hungry customers.
As my father and I walked through the towering rows he’d planted that spring, we’d fill the empty sacks with the tall ears of ripened corn. I’d fill mine until I couldn’t carry it, then I’d start a new sack and continue along the row leaving the partially filled one behind.
When my father reached the end of his row, he’d double back through mine, combining the sacks and carrying them back to the truck. After an hour or so we’d quit.
Tired and with our clothing damp from the early morning dew, we’d often sit on his tailgate and watch the sun rise. My father would sip coffee from his thermos and I’d munch on an apple or orange he’d brought for me.
After a few minutes of sitting there, we’d head home to unload the crop into the garage walk-in refrigerator.
Then my father would leave for work.
I’d often chase him down the drive way on my bicycle en route to morning swim practice.
The next day, we’d rise again before dawn to pick more corn. We’d do this for weeks until all the silvery ears were gone.
Those were our mornings. Mornings we shared together, a father and his little girl, working side by side.