Carol Jane Remsburg
A week ago the combines roared through. The big green machines thundered along spewing chaff and chunks of cobs everywhere. Ah, such is rural life. I felt that the harvest had come a few weeks early by the calendar, yet the corn was ready. Funny only two weeks earlier the corn had still been mostly green. After sixteen years of living in the same house, today began a new tradition.
With the corn gone and our horizons reopened, my daughter decided it was time to explore the remains of the field. It began innocently enough yesterday as the weather itself acknowledged what the calendar stated. The wind blew and the clouds rolled in. There was a definite bite lurking beneath the chill in the air.
Hand in hand with her little cousin, Erin and Lexie began a harvest of their own. Erin eleven was bent upon showing the 3 year-old about the leftover corn in the field and how easily it came off the cobs. They returned to the house twice to get more sandwich bags to fill. Lexie proudly parroted what Erin had told her, "We are collecting squirrel and bird food!" Their cheeks were rosy with both excitement and the outdoors. The afternoon wore on until it was time to stop. Erin was still eager to return to the field long after her cousin went home.
This morning, Erin was up early and ready to return to the business at hand. She had decided she was going to sell her shucked corn to an uncle who dotes on the squirrels near his home. At 25 cents a pound, you couldn't beat the price she was offering. I thought the price a tad low since this was a labor-intensive chore; initially with gleaning the field and then shucking.
By 8 AM, Erin had co-opted her father into the field for a round of foraging. They filled my wash bucket and returned and Erin shucked it out. Hmm, six 1 to 1 ˝ pound baggies, plus 6 perfect ears of corn for presentation. As she sat in the kitchen working those cobs, her father filled her in on how it was in the pioneer days. Erin loved it. Yet meantime she also had to have her ancient Christmas music playing in the background (Don will never forgive me for teaching her to love it).
Erin took a 30-minute break for cartoons after the first batch was done, then she was right back out in the field for more. This time she was by herself. Soon the old wash bucket was filled again. Yet before she shucked this latest haul, she wanted to go back for more. A fine mist had begun that would soon turn into a raw rain. Her time was running out. And thus I was deputized for the last run into the field.
Despite the chill, the mist, and the wind, we laughed while we searched. Erin also shared her tips on locating the hidden ears of corn. We covered a good-sized portion of the field in record time and the bucket was overflowing. It was time to return to the warmth of the kitchen where the candles glowed, the crock-pot simmered, and Erin's Christmas music played softly. Back to shucking she went with a purpose.
That purpose wasn't for money as I'd originally supposed. No, Erin, at eleven, was enjoying the fascination of pioneer labor while employing her imagination. Her shucked corn could not be bought at any price, she decided. It would be a gift instead. Her joy in this day cannot be suppressed; it's infectious.
Thus it's now late in the afternoon on Sunday, dinner will be ready soon. The house is warm as Erin still sits in the kitchen shucking the last of the corn singing softly along with Perry, Bing, and all the old chorales. And while this is the last day of September, Christmas has arrived early in this house.