December 17, 2017

That for which Every Heart Yearns

By Chaplain Mike

This is the time of year a Midwestern boy like me looks forward to with all his heart.

It is, without a doubt, the very best time of year.

For this is the season when the three most wonderful words in the English language fill the air.

Three simple, sublime words.

They are everywhere. These three magnificent words come to mind whenever you drive down the road, almost any road around here. When you are out and about, when you go to the store, when you come home and walk in the back door, you think about these words and they make you smile.

They are the most splendid, the most appealing, the most astounding words ever spoken.

They represent what I believe may be the greatest gift in all of God’s creation.

These words bring the promise of satisfaction, delight, and wonder. They capture our hopes and dreams, the yearning we all have deep within us.

As far as I am concerned, there is no greater three-word phrase in all the world.

Fresh sweet corn!

Makes me want to break into song: ‘Tis music in the sinner’s ear! ‘Tis life and health and peace.

Barely two, yea three other phrases are like unto it…

  • Fresh green beans.
  • Fresh tomatoes.
  • Fresh cantaloupe.

Yet even these wonders do not rise to the level of “fresh sweet corn.”

I love sweet corn. It truly is better than sex! I’m not lying! All across the Midwest tonight, a husband and wife will finish what husbands and wives do, and the wife will ask the husband: “How was that?” And, if the man is honest, he’ll say “Well, it wasn’t sweet corn, but it was nice.” It’s a fact! Sweet corn is better than sex!…fresh sweet corn!…Store bought sweet corn, yes, sex is definitely better than that!

• Garrison Keillor

Sweet corn is, of course, best when picked fresh from the field or garden, then immediately placed in the hands of the fastest sprinter in the county. While cheered on by eager onlookers to set a new land speed record, said sprinter makes a beeline for the kitchen, peeling and slinging off the husks as he races toward the screen door. When he reaches the house, his teammates fling open the door, and our heroic runner breathlessly crosses the finish line, transferring the naked ears into the hands of dear old mom in her checkered apron. With a sure, experienced touch, she drops them at once into a large pot of boiling water.

The harvesting team repeats this routine as often as necessary until the pot is full and the air becomes sweet with steam.

When the golden ears are tender, mom whisks them to the table on a platter. Impatient, hankering hands grab the sacred treasure, slather it in butter, sprinkle it with salt, and devour it as soon as humanly possible. We grip the steaming ears by our fingertips, and like the carriage of an old typewriter we crunch our way down the first line, hit the return and reset, then start chomping down the next row. Over and over again.

Chomp. Chomp. Chomp. Chomp. Chomp. Return.

Chomp. Chomp. Chomp. Chomp. Chomp. Return.

Chomp. Chomp. Chomp. Chomp. Chomp. Return.

The gods look down on us with jealousy. They follow the action like spectators at a tennis match.

As for we who feast, we hardly pause to breathe, and the full ears on the plate are quickly replaced by the colorless cobs of those we’ve decorticated.

Once more, the track and field harvest team is deployed. The screen door slams behind them.

While they go about their business, we who are alive and remain turn our attention to the secondary parts of the meal: grilled chicken or pork chops, green beans, fresh tomatoes, jello salad. We slake our thirst from large, sweating glasses of iced tea.

Then the door flies open and the next batch is dropped into the pot.

The Messianic Banquet can continue.

Amen. Maranatha. Even so, boil quickly!

And there amid the laughter around the family table, the clinking of plates and silverware, the raising of glasses, and the sweet heavenly “crunch” of summer in the Midwest, the song of St. Garrison fills our hearts…

As we travel along on our earthly path
Through this beautiful world God has made
Tramping along at a stately pace
Like elephants on parade.
We discover the pleasure of grass and sun
And music and light and talk
And the joy when a day of hard work is done
And you’ve cleared five acres of rocks.
The joy as you climb in your bed at night
The joy of the brand-new morn
But of all these pleasures the greatest delight
Is a supper of fresh sweet corn.

O that fresh sweet corn that the Lord sent down
So we know how heaven will be,
No grief, no tears, just the young golden ears
Plenty for you and for me.
Though the road be hard and deep is the night
And the future we cannot see
Take my hand, dear Lord, and I’ll be all right
If you’ll save a few ears for me.

…We praise you Lord for this good good life
And praise for the day we were born
And the gifts you have given including this heaven-ly
Fresh sweet corn.

• A Prairie Home Companion script—May 7, 2005

Comments

  1. Bahahahaha!

  2. Dave K eh? says:

    Being born and raised near the town of Taber, also known as “The Corn Capital of Canada”, I found this post especially funny 😉

  3. Agreed. Had corn, pork chops, and apple sauce for dinner earlier.

    One slight push back though. I much prefer the corn prepared on the grill.

  4. I thought you were going to say “back to school”…

    And I had sweet corn on Sunday along with steak, salad, and the best strawberry pie I’ve ever had in my life.

  5. Take a fresh ear of sweet corn, put real butter on it with a few parsley flakes and little salt. Wrap in foil and grill.

    Slice some fresh tomatoes ( also created by Jesus) and some lean grilled chicken breast. No bread!! Bad for you! Puts more flesh around your mid section.

    slice some cucumbers and squash. A few pinto beans for the heart.

    Praise the Lord!

    • Wow, that does sound like a little bit of heaven! Now I know what we are having for dinner tonight.

    • That sounds like Grandpaw’s response on Hee-Haw, when the folks would holler, “HEY, GRANDPAW, WHAT’S FER SUPPER?”

      And then they’d all go, “YUM, YUM!!!”

  6. Yummy. We just had Maine’s first fresh corn of the season last week. Sweet and snappy.

    I can just hear Garrison Keillor saying the things you posted. What a great voice he has! I enjoy his show.

    Enjoy your corn, Chaplain Mike!

  7. I agree with your enthusiasm for corn BUT…….

    I thought the threw words were going to be BACK TO SCHOOL!

    • When we had school age children, that probably would have been the phrase. First day of school was a day of celebration and delight…for mom and dad.

      • My “baby boy” is 29 and engaged, but hubby and I are both teachers! So, as far as I am concerned, the “New Year” is always the start of the fall semester!

  8. And sweet memories of another kind include the same fresh sweet corn, husks peeled back but not removed, detasseled, slathered in butter, husks replaces and laid lovingly on the grill to roast and steam in its own juices. Roasting ears, grilled to perfection, are right up there (if not slightly higher) than boiled ones.

  9. Hahaha! Classic, CM. Brings to mind a lot of hot Saturdays spent shucking corn on the front porch of my mom’s house.

    I would have to say though, in North Georgia, the words we see along the roadside that prompt the same emotions are “Hot Boiled Peanuts”!

  10. 1. As newlyweds in Nebraska in 1963, we used to buy fresh ears of corn from a guy who sold it door-to-door from the back of his pickup truck for 3 cents an ear. Now an ear costs 75 cents and we have to drive to a supermarket.

    2. Our black poodle, Gigi, used to eat corn straight off the cob in that typewriter fashion you described so well. The sad thing is, some of your readers won’t even know why you included “Return” but time marches on….

    3. I have lived in North Georgia for 36 years now, and I absolutely HATE hot boiled peanuts. Give me dry roasted any day.

    • Bob,

      If you hate boiled peanuts you probably don’t love Jesus and are certainly not orthodox in your beliefs. The same interstates that brought you to GA will take you from whence you came. (just kidding of course)

      Boiled peanuts are ok. Had fresh corn last night from my grandads farm, peas should be in soon, but nothing, nothing beats fresh pork rinds.

      Austin

      • Thanks, Fr. Austin, for the words of wisdom. I believe Lewis Grizzard phrased it, “If you don’t like living in the South, then Delta is ready when you are.”

        JK, Bob…We welcome all foreigners in GA, even those from Nebraska.

        We have an old guy named Pop Bill who sells hot boiled peanuts and homemade pork skins at a four way stop in the middle of nowhere down here where I’m at. His hands are always clean, but you know, I’ve just come to think of that as a little extra seasoning…

  11. Isaac (the poster occasionally still known as Obed) says:

    Take this as a mighty compliment, Chap: The whole time I was reading the above, St. Garrison’s voice was doing the narration in my head!

  12. David Cornwell says:

    Marge & I went out to eat last eve with our newlywed granddaughter & her husband. They looked awfully happy. I’m not sure it’s from eating sweet corn!

  13. Clay Knick says:

    Yes, St. Garrison!!

    Sweet corn, tomatoes, string beans, and cantaloupe. That’s a meal here in the south!

  14. I first bonded with my (now) husband over fresh sweet corn.

    While on a camping trip with our group of friends, someone had brought fresh corn and grilled it over the fire. Everyone else was eating burgers. It was dark. He and I both grabbed ears of corn and sat on a log together. Butter was dripping down my face and I didn’t care. We snuck second ears and gushed over the deliciousness. Perhaps we had thirds and fourths, I’ll never tell. But I don’t think anyone else ate corn that night, and I don’t think we ate anything else!

  15. Amy L Scott says:

    OOOO, I’m so jealous. Is that allowed? We just moved to S. Korea in March after living in rural Ohio for 11 years. where we had the best sweet corn ever. I haven’t had the heart to try the corn on the cob here. I’ve heard it doesn’t compare at all and I’m afraid I’ll be disappointed. Maybe I’ll at least try it, but perhaps I should just live with the memories of Ohio sweet corn until I can get back there in the summer.

    But we did enjoy the wonderful variety of strawberries when we first moved to Korea. Luscious and so sweet!

  16. My parents recently lived in the small town of Olivia, MN, the self professed “Corn Capital of the World”. Their water tower is even in the shape of a corn cob. There was nothing better than their annual corn festival, held about this time of year, when the entire town showed up at the park for freshly boiled sweet corn, dipped in giant vats of melted butter. I agree wholeheartedly with this post…there’s nothing that helps us savor the end of summer like fresh corn on the cob!

  17. I thought you were going to say “You Are Home”. Fooled me with the corn.

  18. Okay, that’s it. WRITE A BOOK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I’d love to hear you and St. Garrison together- bet that would be a hoot.

  19. Charles Fines says:

    Would be glad to try most all of the recipes this subject brings out, but one thing I’ve never understood and never hear mentioned. If you had access to corn in your garden, why would you downgrade the eating with heat and condiments when you could eat it immediately on the spot at its ultimate peak of perfection? Gives a brand new clarification to the meaning of “fresh picked”.

  20. I’m from the Cornhusker State, and you can bet your bottom dollar that we eat tons of the good stuff! The best place to get’em is from the farmer kid in a tent on the side of the road. Take’em home, cook them babies up, lather them in butter and salt…. YUM!

  21. I was totally fooled – – I thought the magic 3 words were ” iPad 3 release”.

  22. “Filed Under: Common Grace”

    Amen.

  23. We used to grow acres of sweet corn for the local canning factory. By the time they came to pick it, it was no longer edible. You want it when it is milky-sweet, not hard and starchy. Our son got his start as an entrepreneur at 7 when he set up a stand at the end of our driveway and sold freshly picked corn (not the hard stuff) for $1.00 a dozen over 20 years ago.
    Even though we no longer grow it on such a large scale, we do plant about 1/4 acre for all of our kids. And we all boil it straight from the field or freeze it in butter sauce.

  24. There was an episode of MASH where Father Mulcahey was growing corn and looking forward to having the mess hall serve fresh, sweet, home-grown corn instead of the canned slop.

    He kept daydreaming about it throughout the show, but when the time came for the glorious long-awaited meal, the cook served it up and Father looked down at it and said, “You…you CREAMED IT!!! You…you NINNY!!!

    The cook threw down his ladel and said, “Well, next time, you can have it on the COB, for all I care!”

  25. Amen! I’m going to be in South Dakota next month and am hoping beyond hope that they still have good corn available.

  26. While working a farm in Penn. for the summer in 1988 we used to pluck ’em and eat ’em in the field. Fast forward to two days ago talking to my father in law in Philly and my wife told me to tell him (we’re visiting next week from Dallas where I think we only grow feed corn) we want Jersey corn. Pertty dang sweet-not to mention Jersey tamaters.

  27. Ahh, music to this Nebraska girl’s ears! I can still feel the tips of my fingers burning because I couldn’t wait a few minutes for the ears to cool.