Thursday, August 5, 2010

Sweet Corn: It's an Iowa Thing

Iowans take many things for granted: four distinct seasons, quality education, beautiful sunsets, lush vegetation, family farms, county fairs, a median city population of less than 500 (true!), and sweet corn.

Sure, we may occasionally take a moment here and there to quietly breathe a humble breath of Iowa thanks. But in the same way that you can't recognize how tall your child has grown without looking at last year's photos, Iowans can't always recognize how blessed we are to live in a state where - as a friend who recently returned here for a visit said - "it is so green your eyes hurt."

A short drive on any Iowa highway is a reminder that farmers defined the boundaries of Iowa's interior expanses. They cultivated acres and acres of soil whose beautifully blooming prairie flowers hinted at the rich potential awaiting their labors. Farmers continue to define Iowa. If anyone doubts that, just watch what happens when August rolls around acting like a plentiful prelude to a promise-filled harvest season.

Few can understand the cultural connectedness of Iowa's agrarian heritage. How families gather to share in traditions shaped by food. And not just any food, but food from a land of bountiful blessings: hog roasts, strawberry festivals, beef barbecues, sweet corn feeds. Each gathering a celebration of food and the abundance of life lived well.

For our family, the first week of August typically means a trip to my aunt's and uncle's farm to freeze sweet corn. This year we - my family, my parents, my aunt and uncle, my cousins and their children - packaged more than 130 quarts. And while we picked, husked, silked, boiled, cooled, cut, and packaged, we also talked, remembering what it means to be related and remembering how to relax even when your body has grown tired from a good afternoon of shared labor.

Thanks, Aunt Lois and Uncle Chuck. Our freezer is full, but our hearts more so.

Sweet corn. Sweet life. It's an Iowa thing.

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