|Dietz Farm, Hegins, Pennsylvania|
I lead with my shoulder as I weave between the wet rows of sweet corn. When I find a ripe ear, I break it off, shuck it, and then put the cleaned cob in my pocket. Four of us men have been tasked with collecting corn, tomatoes, and peaches for our party of eleven’s dinner. Despite a heavy drizzle, I’m enjoying every minute of this very primal and wholesome endeavor.
We’ve gathered at Uncle Ron’s familiar farm following the funeral of Uncle Charlie who recently lost a tough cancer battle. The solemnness of the funeral has begun to fade. The meal will transition us into the evening where surely life will return to the days of old. Years ago, our extended family would gather regularly at Ron’s for too much food, unending card games, storytelling, and almost always, tears of laughter.
Granted, you can find fresh produce at any grocery store, or at your local farm market, but I doubt enjoying that freshness could get any better than how I will on this Saturday evening in Hegins, Pennsylvania: handpicked from field to table in twenty minutes thanks to Aunt Deanna’s culinary expertise and efficiency.
Back when we cousins were much younger, the corn harvest brought out our competitiveness. Who could eat the most ears? Eleven was the record, I think. But we’re all adults now more focused on the health concerns of jamming eleven ears into our bodies. No one at the table is seriously thinking about making a run at the record. Still though, I can’t resist the urge to eat more than I should at this plentiful offering. Four plump ears, along with several tomatoes, peaches, potatoes, shoofly pie and a Pennsylvania Yuengling to wash it all down have me glassy-eyed. I’ve eaten to the point of bloatation, but it feels wonderful.