“Every summer, like the roses, childhood returns.”
— Marty Rubin
The smell of sweet corn when peeling the heavy husk back from the ear is sure to summon childhood memories of summertime, in fine form.
It is said that most of our childhood is stored not in photos but in lovely old scents: a certain biscuit, warm and fragrant, opening in our hand; a pot simmering on the stove. It is this that can take us back like nothing else.
The scent of fresh green beans as I snap them places me back in the kitchen of a dear aunt, the broken ends gathering in her apron, lying open on her lap.
Fresh zucchini sizzling in a small frying pan reminds me of the easy, long, summertime days spent with cousins, when candy was preferred over vegetables and we pretended to be deathly allergic to anything green.
But it is sweet corn that brings a rush of so many memories, from planting it to watching the stalks shoot ears, the smell of a long-awaited rain, to the day of finally getting to grab and snap an ear of corn from its bulky stalk.
I was the little sister watching the big girls husk the “money” from those ears, pretending to be so rich they could simply throw hundred-dollar bills to the pigs over the fence. It was my job to pull the sticky silk from those ears after they had gone through all the green money, then placing those fresh ears of corn in a basket to carry to the kitchen.
Sweet corn season meant it was also hay season, with extra helpers around our table. Dozens upon dozens of ears of corn was enjoyed, dripping in butter, sprinkled with salt. Stories were told, and bragging rights bets were placed on who could eat the most. Eventually, cobs were carried away with the mess of a hearty lunch enjoyed by many.
On busy days with no time to gather around a table, an assembly line of sandwich making took place instead, the finished product wrapped in wax paper and placed in a picnic basket.
Something as simple as sliced bologna on buttered white bread could taste surprisingly divine on a hot summer day between chores, washed down with an icy cold glass of lemonade.
Summertime abundance meant peach juice dripping down the chin, washing it away with a swan dive into the farm pond.
Cucumber and onion salad, sweet and milky, was followed by the latest Jell-O creation and a slice of angel food cake, standing high and light on a pretty glass cake plate.
And the very best of summer days ended with taking turns cranking the ice cream freezer, milk from our own cows put to use to create the most magnificent summer treat of them all.
Some of the folks gathered to enjoy the feast added strawberries, blueberries or peaches or a swirl of chocolate syrup and nuts in order to call it the best ever, but in my way of thinking, the tip-top way to enjoy a taste of homemade ice cream was simply pure vanilla and spooned off of the beater, cold and creamy and pure heavenly.
It is the surest way to connect to that 10-year-old kid that lives on inside each of us, no matter the number of candles on the cake.