Backyard Corn

I planted the corn back in May, crowding the dozen or so starter plants into a 2’x2′ area in one of the raised beds.  I fortified the soil with a hefty new bag of Miracle Grow’s organic garden soil and watered well.  Then I waited.  By the 4th of July, the little plants were barely knee-high, though lush and green.  I fertilized and mulched to protect the roots from the summer sun and waited some more. Mid July, the stalks began to tassle, and I was hopeful that big plump ears would appear overnight.  It didn’t quite happen that way, though slim little ears did begin to form.  At the end of July I was getting downright antsy. Maybe the ears never got pollinated, or maybe I didn’t water enough.

But in that first magical week in August, the ears filled out. The stalks got their characteristic lanky appearance as the leaves and tassels turned brown.  Feeling the ears, I figured they were two or three days away from perfection.  I started searching the Internet for corn recipes.

Then, last night, the garden got raided.  Bosco, the neighborhood raccoon, clattered over the back fence, knocking over the wire mesh barriers we constructed in our simple-minded attempt to save the vegetables from marauders.  I ran for the flashlight – an impressive two foot long aluminum light saber – and ran outside to protect the corn.  Shining the light across the garden, I spotted Bosco immediately, yanking a corn stalk out by the roots, baring his teeth and chattering at me when I trained the light into his eyes.  I stood there for a moment, uncertain as to what I should do.  Behind  me, in the kitchen,  I heard my house rabbit scatter for safety into his tunnel.  I didn’t blame him.  Bosco. Was. Huge.  Tentatively, I waved the flashlight around, sending crazy arcs of light back and forth across the corn stalks.  Bosco stood on his hind legs, arms outstretched, and growled. In one hand, he grasped the cornstalk, completely unwilling to let go.  I heard the muffled thumps from my rabbit coming from the house. I yelled at Bosco.  He growled back, then reached for another cornstalk.  I stomped my feet at him as he pulled the second stalk from the ground.  I yelled again, taking a few steps forward, training the light on his enormous body.  Bosco charged.

I turned and ran back to the house, locking the sliding door behind me. The rabbit wheezed, grunted and thumped. There was nothing more to be done.

In the morning, I surveyed the damage. Bosco had pulled up half of the plants, and torn the ears off several others. He left a trail of cornsilks in his wake, along with several partially sampled ears of otherwise perfect looking corn.  I filled my basket with what he didn’t touch and brought them inside.

The ears were perfect. Somewhat stunted in size, perhaps, but the kernels well-formed and glossy.  I steamed two ears and tasted.  Delicious.  As I ate my corn, which I figured cost me about $3 an ear to grow and harvest, I couldn’t help but feel a tiny bit of resentment towards Bosco. It’s like the story of the Little Red Hen, only with a much more greedy ending.  But, I suppose, that’s what life in the city is all about.


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