Sweet corn is on my short list of summer’s best offerings.

Today, I went to the farmers’ market in town and bought ten ears of corn. Tonight they will be on the table. Any leftovers will go in the refrigerator. Cold, I love to munch off those sweet kernels.

As a kid, I waited impatiently for that first taste of fresh sweet corn dripping with butter and salt. Our family had a large garden. I began checking the ears of corn when the silk started to turn brown. I probably also checked as soon as the silk turned from pale green to red, just to be sure it wasn’t ready. By the time I was nine or ten, I could be sent to pick the corn.

There is picture in my head. My parents are in the barn milking the cows. We are not having supper until after milking. Why? I don’t remember because supper was usually at five before Dad and the hired man did the milking.

Mom says I can help with supper by getting the corn ready. In the garden I search out the ears that look ripe. Then I pull a little of the husk away to be sure there are yellow kernels. I pick about a dozen ears and carry them to a spot by the barnyard fence. I strip the husks from the corn. My hands are not strong enough to rip several layers off quickly. Instead, I remove them one layer at a time.

Cows are always curious creatures. They line up along the fence to watch me. As I toss the husks over the fence they nudge one another out of the way to get the greens. Of course, these cows have been outside all day to graze in the pasture, but corn husks are special.

I take the corn to the house. By now, Mom is in the kitchen. She has a pot of boiling water on the stove. Dad and the hired man come in and wash up for supper. Mom lifts the hot yellow ears from the water. We slather them with butter and sprinkle on the salt. The moment has arrived!


  1. We did not get fresh sweet corn in Alaska, where I grew up. I will never forget when we visited family in Lancaster County, PA, when I was in second grade and we had a meal of sweet corn! Heavenly!

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