By Bruce Stambaugh
We have begun a corny, new tradition in the family.
In June 2010, our daughter and her family moved from their beloved Austin, Texas to Harrisonburg, Virginia in the lovely Shenandoah Valley. As much as we enjoyed visiting them in the Lone Star State, we were thrilled that they would be much closer to us geographically.
True, driving the 350 miles across eight mountain passes approximated the flying time to Austin. The cost, however, was much less to travel overland than in the air, and more convenient, too.
My wife and I liked to visit Carrie and her family in Texas in late fall when the weather there was more favorable than the ever-changeable stuff of Ohio. On those autumn excursions, we often packed an extra suitcase, not for us but for them. It was filled with nothing more than several containers of frozen Incredible sweet corn. It was their winter supply of vegetable sweetness.
Last August our daughter and her three children drove from their Virginia home to ours in Ohio to help with the corn preservation process. Their extended stay gave us a chance to do up the corn and for them to explore the germane niceties of our area. Carrie returned home with the corn and the youngest, Maren, a few days later, leaving us with the two boys, Evan and Davis.
This year they repeated the process, only this time our wise and cunning daughter escaped with the Incredible and in appreciation for the golden gift left us with the trio of grandchildren, ages seven, five and 22 months. We couldn’t have been happier.
Last year, Nana and I took the boys to their first Cleveland Indians game. The highlight of the evening occurred off the field. Slider, the Tribe’s mascot, pounced on the boys, teasing them with hugs and tweaking their ball cap brims.
Last week, we repeated that experience, only with Uncle Nathan, our son, pinch-hitting for Nana, who was home entertaining toddler Maren. Unlike the perfect evening of a year ago, we witnessed two innings of baseball and two hours of drenching rain.
The baseball games were rewards for everyone pitching in to help with the corn process. Evan and Davis helped husk. Even little Maren joined in by removing the tickly corn silk from several cobs. She was meticulous in her task, determined to get every last strand.
Nana, of course, coordinated the corn coronation. She prefers to cut the kernels from the cobs before cooking it. She says it goes a lot faster. Once the cooking is completed, it’s simply a matter of finding enough containers to cache the corn.
We were amazed at Maren’s vocabulary and inquisitiveness, which included willingly participating in the corn fest. Her long sun-bleached curls matched the shade of the corn’s yellowy ears.
Evan and Davis had grown, too. Lanky and imaginative, they had no trouble keeping busy without getting into too much trouble. Of course, at mealtime, locally raised corn on the cob was a favorite.
At week’s end, we met their mother halfway in southwestern Pennsylvania to return the children to their rightful owner. That’s one of the advantages of being grandparents.
All in all the mix of grandkids and corn made for an Incredible time together. It’s a sweet, new tradition that I hope lasts longer than the frozen corn usually does.