The Corn Man


During the summer months, when fresh produce abounds, I try to buy as much as I can from local fruit stands. The other day I stopped at one I hadn’t tried before because I wanted some sweet corn and there were multiple signs advertising their selection.

Although there wasn’t an overwhelming about of produce to choose from, fragrant cantaloupes, lemony cucumbers, vibrant tomatoes and boxes of plums were set out in an appealing display.

Gathering up a few things, I looked around for the corn and didn’t see any. Asking the man running the stand if he had any, he smiled and nodded his head of white hair. At this point, all he needed was some funky sunglasses and a T-shirt to confirm he had not quite left behind the haze of the 1960s. Both his speech and laid-back body language assured me of this.

Turning around, he pointed to a huge barrel and removed the lid where sweet corn hid beneath a burlap covering. Pulling out a few ears, he showed them to me, describing his “beauties” as “elegant and lovely” before bagging a half dozen ears for me.

Seeing the corn man, along with those burlap bags took me hurtling back to the summer I was seventeen when my parents decided my divine torture for the summer would be helping them sell sweet corn. Although I’m sure it was probably just a few acres they planted, at the time it seemed more like hundreds. For a few weeks that summer, it seemed like all I did was pick corn (which caused my asthma to go into overdrive), shuck corn (which caused my whining to go into overdrive) and bag the shucked corn for customers. Some corn we delivered and others we sold right from the front yard, where huge piles of corn husks sat until yours truly got the privilege of hauling them off to the garbage.

To this day, I hate shucking corn although I do enjoy a good ear of sweet corn.

Thanking Mr. Corn Man for the produce, I begrudgingly shucked the corn for dinner that night.

Although I had my doubts, the corn man was right – those ears were not only sweet, but elegant and lovely, too.

She Who Needs to Go Back to the Fruit Stand

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