Corn must be a generational thing. I say this because kids don’t seem to tuck into an ear of corn with the same zest that I do. It is a taste from childhood, from a different age.
Of course, we are all to blame for tolerating contemporary year-round corn with the taste and consistency of those packing chips in shipping boxes.
I am talking about real corn, recently picked, grown for taste. We were in upstate New York recently, and my wife bought a dozen ears from a farm stand (12 for $3, leave the money in the plastic box) and the next day it still tasted fresh.
The terrible drought in the Midwest has not affected the corn upstate; the only good news from Hurricane Isaac is that there may be some relief for the back end of the Midwest corn crop.
I can get downright Proustian (in emotion, if not writing style) about the memories of fresh corn -- Á la Recherche du Mais Perdu, as Proust might have titled it, boiled corn, doused in butter and salt, the way my mother served it.
We did not have much money – sometimes did not have a car – and my father worked weekends and holidays. So my mom would make a picnic for five kids and we would walk up the glacial hill to Cunningham Park and she would start a fire and prepare a dozen ears of corn, maybe two dozen. I think my kid brother has the dented pot we used.
My wife, after her 13 or 14 trips to India, turns the corn over a flame, daubs it with one spice or another, in homage to picnics with friends in the hills of Pune.
Either way, I get downright sentimental.
In its Labor Day editorial, the Times mentions sweet corn as a rite of the end of summer, like taking kids to college or watching the Open tennis.
The writer must be of a certain age (by definition, editorial writers would tend to be.) Somebody younger might rave about holiday treats somewhat more chi-chi. Corn still makes me happy.
"Among the things that have long fascinated people about Jesus and explain his enduring appeal is his method of dialogue and teaching. "He asked a lot of questions and told a lot of stories in the form of parables. In fact, parables form about a third of Jesus’ recorded teachings. The Gospels were written decades after he died, so his questions and parables clearly left a deep impression on those who bore testimony to him....
"Some of Jesus’ questions were rhetorical; others were meant to challenge or even provoke. In some cases, Jesus used questions to parry attacks by religious authorities who set traps for him. In others, he used questions to enter more fully into the lives of others and to help people look at the state of their hearts. He asked people about their fears and their faith. Jesus used questions to free a woman caught in adultery from condemnation and to inquire whether people considered him to be the Messiah. He probed deeply into questions not many had asked before him, like “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”
---(Peter Wehner, long-time White House consultant and writer, in the NYT last week about Jesus Christ’s method of teaching by asking questions.)
"Would that I could mention all the illuminating details in this biography, for example, why Wells praised Black Americans so highly, saying, 'I took a mighty liking to these gentle, human, dark-skinned people,' and 'Whatever America has to show in heroic living today, I doubt if she can show anything finer than the quality of the resolve, the steadfast efforts hundreds of black and colored men are making today to live blamelessly, honorably and patiently, getting by themselves what scraps of refinement, beauty and learning they may, keeping their hold on a civilization they are grudged and denied.''
-- "How H.G. Wells Predicted the 20th Century," Charles Johnson, NYT Book Review, Nov. 19, 2021. ***".
...the monsters arrive."
"They come in a deafening, surging swarm, blasting from lawn to lawn and filling the air with the stench of gasoline and death. I would call them mechanical locusts, descending upon every patch of gold in the neighborhood the way the grasshoppers of old would arrive, in numbers so great they darkened the sky, to lay bare a cornfield in minutes. But that comparison is unfair to locusts.
"Grasshoppers belong here. Gasoline-powered leaf blowers are invaders, the most maddening of all the maddening, environment-destroying tools of the American lawn-care industry."
---The great Margaret Renkl, from Nashville, one of my favorite NYT bylines, Oct. 26, 2021.
(She describes our Long Island enclave to every decibel, every stink.)