Monday, June 21, 2010

A Summer Soltice, and the Corn Fairy

It is now officially, HOT. I believe today is the first day on the calendar for summer to begin but the heat didn’t get the memo and it’s been here for a while now. Mornings begin here on the farm with the usual walk to the barn to toss feed and hay to the horses. I now return to the house soaked thru, change clothes, wait for the horses to eat and then return to ride the ones who need work that day. After that I return to the house again soaked and change clothes a second time.

The rest of my days recently have been spent hiding like a lizard under a rock, moving from shade to shade. I get itchy after a while inside and feel a need to go do something productive outside and then open the door to step out and the heat and humidity hit my face like a blast furnace and zap what energy and motivation that might have been lurking in the back of my brain. It could easily melt what mascara I might have been wearing, into long black smears, and I retreat, again, and hide until dusk.

At dusk, the heat mercifully retreats with the fading sun and there is a deep and profound relief in this. In the fields down the road the cows come out of hiding and graze in peace and comfort before the sun begins its upward trip again the next morning. At this point in the day there is time to get a few more things done outside before settling in for the evening. There is usually the last trip to the veggie garden to gather what ever is ripe and ready for the table.

There are few things redeemable about the oppressive heat of the southern Alabama summer, but eating home grown veggies is one of them. A ripe tomato that still contains the heat of the day, sliced and laid on a piece of toast covered with Duke’s mayonnaise, salted, and generously doused with pepper may be perhaps the finest culinary invention ever made. It is rivaled by the crisp crust of a green fried tomato that melt in your mouth with a sweet and tart melding of flavors that soothe the soul, fried okra, peas and beans, and then there is the corn.

Ah yes, the corn. Silver Queen is the basic, sweet, white and perfect. There are thousands of varieties of corn, but there is none in my book that has any thing close to the rich flavor of fresh picked SQ, shucked, and straight into the heat (this weekend we used the green egg to smoke it, and it was spectacular) and covered with a bit of butter and or olive oil, more salt and pepper, and then devoured. Whether one uses the forward roll to eat their corn on the cob, or the old typewriter form, side to side, either way is a sweet and sublime experience that requires several paper towels to wipe the precious drippings from our faces.

We grow our own corn and have for years, but for some reason my father has become the self appointed Corn Fairy, bringing corn which he buys down at a small farm near the beach, back to family and friends. It somehow, years back, became his mission to be the first to bring the first Silver Queen available anywhere back to town. To this end he arises early to beat the throngs of other buyers, he buys bushel upon bushel, loading the car with his loot, and then upon return, divides it into bags for all to share. I will be freezing and canning some of his corn today for future when all the fresh grown is gone, and will think of him then when I eat it then, my dad, the Silver Queen Corn Fairy.

Friday was the new colt’s third week. Already he has the raccoon shaded eyes where his soft baby fuzz is shedding. The F boy now has an official name after long indecision with great help from many for ideas. He is Fandango. This suits him well, I think, the definition of such being a Latin dance in triple time, a spirited courtship dance between a man and woman, with clicking castanets, twirls, and flourishes. This fellow looks to be doing such a dance when I get to see him frolicking in the pasture, snapping his knees up and popping his feet forward with crisp swings.

Fandango continues to annoy the stuffing out of his mom and I hear her every once in a while squeal at him, or I see her bang her head to get him out of her way. He loves to stand in her feed tub, which I put on the ground for him to get some nibbles too. He can get all 4 feet in there and somehow bend his crazy long legs to get his mouth down there to grab some. This usually doesn’t last long because Joline will just shove him off, and he retaliates by moving around to her bag and biting her. Another squeal at him and he wonders off to find another distraction.

I have hung an empty plastic vodka bottle with rocks in it on his gate and he loves biting it and making it make the noise when it hits the metal gate. He stole my lead rope that was just within reach by his door today and ran off with it like a thief that he was. Great fun he had swinging it around and shaking it as it hung so cute from his little mouth. The little bugger has cute down pat and there is no end to the entertainment watching him. He has also already well trained me to scratch him on his favorite spots, neck and right over his tail, to which he stretches his neck out and tries to return the favor to me, and he does have some teeth in there so that is discouraged a bit.

Time spent like that makes me forget, for the brief moment, about just how hot it really is. The horses now tho, are all standing in shade with fans on their faces and I have now retired to the shadows and air conditioning along with all the dogs, for the rest of the heated hours of this day. I am in my next shirt, drinking some mint tea, and will wait for the relief of the Sun’s setting, the first one of 2010 summer. Happy solstice all. Stay cool.

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