Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Meeting another neighbor

For the past year, I've been seeing this blue-gray truck drive past the house, acknowledging the driver with a wave and a smile, but hadn't yet met him. That changed a few weeks ago when he drove down the driveway. He introduced himself as Frank, another retired EIU professor. He brought us a bag of corn, saying "It looks like you're not gonna be getting any of your corn, so I brought you some." True enough. The deer have been eating my corn, and the few ears of Inca Blue Corn I've been able to harvest haven't been complete enough to eat. I'm going to use them as fall decorations, though. Frank started talking, and it was a good thing I didn't have anything pressing going on, because he kept on talking! He's lived on our road for many years, well over 20, perhaps longer, and seems to have a historical knowledge of the area. I heard lots of stories about the past tenant of our house, and many other stories about other tenants. What was grown where, who had more success or failure, and much more. We talked about invasive species, about profitability versus the pleasure of growing. He told me he grows his corn behind an electric fence to keep the deer and coons out. He suggested I do the same, unless I just like the look of corn growing in the garden... (which, honestly, doesn't look too bad!) He commented that he's been impressed with the amount of produce I planted (at this point, I'm just going to assume all of our neighbors have checked out the garden by foot...) and when I offered to give him some produce, he declined, saying he's got enough of his own. 
Frank stopped by a few days later. He actually caught me just as I was about to get into the shower. He waited patiently on the stoop while I located clean shorts and stepped outside to chat. He came bearing even more corn, and the cutest baby eggplants this time. I told him that his corn was the best we'd ever tasted. And that's no lie nor is it hyperbole. It was perfectly sweet, with just the right amount of starch, and bite, and although I've been slicing the kernels off the cob for years because I hate corn getting between my teeth, the second time we cooked it, I couldn't wait to rip it right off the cob. And I savored every kernel stuck in my teeth! Truly some amazing corn. He's been saving the seeds for years, of course, as he's not a fan of anything GMO or purchased if he can help it. As we talked, he asked what my plans were for the garden, and I said that I'm hoping to mow it down and turn it over this fall, in preparation for next spring. Frank said that he does that to his garden, and our neighbor, Dick's, and he'd be glad to do mine. I asked what I can do for him. He told me that since he's 72, he might need me to help him attach the equipment to the tractor (here's where all my friends shudder!) and I told him I would. He said it's not a problem to work my garden since the hard part is getting going. What great luck. 
He gave us so much corn, I knew we couldn't get to it all, so I've blanched it & frozen it (about a quart's worth) and I'm looking forward to eating it this winter... 
And I think I've learned that one should always have a pair of shorts handy...

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