“You’ll make a mess. Go outside to do that.”
With a prodding chide, my mom sent me to the front porch.
With just a bit of necessary force, my small hands grasped and pulled on the husks, exposing the yellow kennels and sending silk wisping into the air. The husks ended up in the compost pile and the ears ended up in a pot of boiling water.
Sitting in our appointed spots, the tip of my pointing finger followed the rectangular pattern of the wooden table, hand-pieced together by my grandfather during a furniture making phase, as the meal was placed into the center of the table.
We bowed our heads as my father delivered a no-fuss blessing and then, passed the chipped serving dishes from person to person. A family favorite, each person took at least one ear of corn and smothered it in butter. My dad peppered his; my mom added a dash of salt. Silky wisps and a corn-shaped indentation remained in the yellow butter as it made its way around the table. As we began to eat, my little ears listened to the banter of my parents competitive jibes.
Pointing at the batch of undeveloped kennels, my dad teased my mom, “You must have grown this one.”
My mom, delighting in her bite, “Oh, whoa….sweet and tender! This one must be mine.”
A celebrated feat, my dad would show off his empty cob, stripped perfectly clean by his two-handed, organized approach. For us kids, our corn was wielded in one messy hand, kernels dangling from misshapen batches of half-eaten ears and off of our chins. But, with the growing stack of passed-over cobs, the remarks continued to fly.
“Oh, this one is perfect. Definitely mine.”
“It’s on the little side…must’ve have been yours.”
In reality, they had grown them together. My dad guided the rototiller over the patch of land and planted the seeds. My mom weeded and watched for the infestation of bugs. Both took turns watering the rows of growing stalks and both prodded us children outside to participate in tasks of the garden.
Because it is was so evident that there was no “yours” and “mine”, these pokes and jabs were indications of affection, a life intertwined with a small patch of earth upon which they raised little ears.