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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Of Ears and a Nose

Black Dirt, Looking South. Oil on stretched canvas, 16x20


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As I stood beside the road, painting, I began to imagine that I could smell corn. The sweet, soft, milky smell filled my nose, swept into my lungs, pushed the sense of spring and summer out to my heart, and my fingers and my toes. But no, I thought. It is too early for corn. And, hard as I looked, I saw none.

When my mother was alive, she delighted in sweet corn. A couple times every summer, we'd have whole dinners of sweet corn and tomatoes. Mom would boil an absurd amount of corn, heap it on a platter, and we would slather the ears with butter and salt and pepper, and the cobs would pile up and we'd eat until we couldn't stuff in any more.

But quintessential Mom is this: Time and again, summer after summer, she would pull the car over beside a cornfield, jump out, sneak to the edge of a field and take a couple ears of corn. She'd get back in the car, and we would shuck and eat those ears, reveling in their raw sweetness.

I was finishing my second painting of the day yesterday when the farmhands began to leave the fields. First, two carloads of them. Then came a truck loaded with... crates of corn. My nose had not been wrong after all. The smell of raw, fresh corn trailed after the truck and made me smile, remembering.

Thanks for reading!

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