ANOTHER DAY IN THE COUNTRY: Seasons change, garden goodies going away
© Another Day in the Country
This morning I was picking produce from someone else’s garden, amazed at its abundance at this time of year.
There was quite a group of us working together. I found myself wondering if I was picking more than I should. The next row I came to was blackberries, dark and plump. Then came a row of raspberries. They were growing rather low to the ground, I thought. Weren’t raspberries supposed to be growing on tall canes? Then I noticed that the berries were covered in something white, liked whipped cream. “Were these safe to eat?”
Someone called me to come help in another part of the garden and I saw plums, growing all in a row, encased in plastic.
“There’s something odd about this garden,” I said to the person next to me. “Who ever heard of plums in plastic bags?”
And then I woke up.
“Strange dream,” I mumbled to myself. “What could have stirred up this in my subconscious mind?”
Then I shivered as I got dressed and wondered about turning on the heat in the house because the seasons are shifting.
Not long now and garden produce will be no more. We’ll have to settle for frozen corn and vegetables shipped in from Mexico. Our tomatoes on the table will once again taste like cardboard until winter has rolled on by and spring will find us planting and tending our gardens, longing for that first ripe tomato in July.
Perhaps I was processing the fact that there were still amazing roasting ears at the farmer’s market Saturday and it’s the middle of October! Corn on the cob is traditionally a summer thing, but here we are in the fall of the year still enjoying fresh produce!
The farm house still stands outside of Ramona where I used to eat corn on the cob at Grandma Ehrhardt’s table. For some reason, I most often remember that table under the light of a kerosene lamp. I was a teenager before they got electricity. We’d be eating supper and there would be a big platter of roasting ears, still steaming from the pot, in the middle of the table. There was always an abundance of food but it’s the corn that I remember.
I remember that corn as being delicious, but how could it have been? It was just field corn that we were eating. It’s the only corn I knew about as a child. Years later, after moving back to Kansas, I tasted field corn again. I hadn’t remembered it being so tough and bland compared with the sweet corn we now enjoy.
If someone were to ask me, “What’s your favorite vegetable?” I’d immediately answer, “Corn. Especially corn on the cob.” Then I’d probably throw in a caveat that if I could only choose one vegetable, it would have to be potatoes because of their versatility and confess that mashed potatoes are my number one comfort food.
Garden fresh tomatoes would be on the short list of favorites. Most years I horde the last of the tomatoes from the garden, wrapping them in newspaper. My goal is to have a few tomatoes left from the garden to serve on Thanksgiving. We won’t make it this year. This was not a good year for tomatoes.
However, the corn this year has been wonderful. When I got back from being with my grandson in California this summer, I told my sister, “The first thing I want is Jirak’s corn.” I’d been dealing with Californians’ penchant for liking white corn all summer long, and I just wanted to sink my teeth into a succulent row of yellow corn kernels with real butter.
Every year we freeze corn to carry us through the winter. My relatives and friends know that we do this regularly, so when we come for a family style meal and I ask, “Can I bring something?” as is the custom in the country, they often say, “Bring corn.”
This year, I enlisted the help of my grandson and his cousin to help shuck the first batch of corn that we froze for winter. Not only had these kids never shucked corn before, they could not fathom doing so much at one time.
In October I find myself watching the little app on my magical phone that gives me the weather forecast. I’m watching the temperature dip precariously close to freezing these nights and I’m reminded to pick the peppers — it was a good year for peppers. Next year I won’t plant so many hot varieties. There’s only so much you can do with them.
Then I’ll pick the last of the cherry tomatoes and relinquish the garden to winter.
It’s another day in the country and today for lunch I’ll have sliced tomatoes, still fresh from the garden, and cook the last of that corn on the cob I’ve been hoarding in the fridge.
Last modified Oct. 11, 2018