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Summer’s last golden evenings

Dinner on the deck is our normal summertime evening – with friends as often as we can.

When guests are on the agenda, I have to make lists to stay on track. Multi-tasking is multi-challenging these days. I can no longer wing it.

Not only does the list help me plan all the big and little chores leading up to guest arrival, but nowadays, it reminds me of how incapable I’ve become of remembering even the most basic jobs. So I write down everything.

The end of a one-page list typically runs: whip cream for dessert, prep romaine, set table, get dessert plates, set cheese plate. In the mix, in no special order, are: find white sandals, shove catalogues under table, hide dirty laundry in washer, brush teeth, freshen perfume, lipstick. My organizational skills are not what they once were.

I cross the tasks off with a bright yellow highlighter – when I can find it. Last weekend it hid under the bag of romaine.

Dear Richard’s list items used to be mine. I won’t say that I remarried in later life just to shorten my party to-do list, but it was definitely part of the pre-nup. He fills the ice bucket, uncorks the wine, cleans the counters, runs a last-minute vacuum, cuts the limes and feeds the cat.

As I cross the items off my duty list before the doorbell rings, somehow “husk the corn” always falls to the bottom. But that’s okay. I have a standard backup plan. The brown bag, “chock full-o-corn” goes directly to the deck for cocktail hour. Since we don’t hire a band or a stand-up comedian for entertainment, the corn substitutes.

I’ve discovered that nothing makes people relax and feel comfortable more than sharing some homely chore together — like shucking corn.

Between sips of gin and tonic, they start talking about their kitchen chores with their mothers or summers in the vegetable patch.

Getting our corn ready for the boiling pot is a serious ice breaker… especially since I don’t tolerate any sloppy husks. They must remove ALL the silk before the cobs are acceptable.

Sloppy shucking leads to motherly reprimands, which leads to wisecracks all around, which leads to laughter, another sip of gin, more laughter and…well isn’t that the purpose of summer on the deck?

Those golden ears are on our deck dinner table every evening we host friends in the late summer.

When we have out-of-town guests, (not much this year) they are enthralled with the quality of our fresh-from-the-field gold.

No one from the south or west has corn like we grow in these here parts. I remember not being able to eat the yellow stuff they passed off as corn when I lived in San Diego.

Speaking of getting corn ready for the pot, I think there are as many methods of cooking the perfect ear as there are breeds of corn today. Jean Kerr, the author of “Please Don’t Eat the Daisies,” wrote about her Irish mother and how she cooked her corn until the cobs were tender.

Holy kernels!

Guests often discuss all their tried-and-true methods of “start with the corn in cold water,” or their special version of steaming, roasting, grilling, barbecuing, microwaving, yada, yada, yada. After politely listening to all their methods of perfection, I do what I’ve always done … into the boiling water, six minutes on the timer, onto the plate. All ready at the same time. Golden heaven. Luscious. Butter-dripping calories, hot, hot and wonderful.

It’s a good thing it is delicious, because logically, I do wonder why I bother to eat it.

I might as well just tape it directly onto the outside of my body. Let’s face it, corn is not diet food, but oh, the process of gaining that extra August tonnage is mega-licious. Besides, it prepares you for the peach shortcake.

I have always eaten my corn in the typewriter fashion, and honestly thought there wasn’t another way to eat it.

You know, choose 3 or 4 rows, depending on the size, and then sort of slide-chomp straight to the other end. I often think a little bell should ring, telling me to turn the cob.

Recently, I observed a friend eat a stripe around the ear and begin another stripe next to it. I didn’t know you could do that! I mean, I thought there were rules.

So, dear fellow corn lovers, we’re just into Silver Queen season and we have almost two weeks left until autumn officially arrives. We are absolutely going to indulge a few more times. You can bet your butter dish on it.

Marcy O’Brien lives in Warren with her husband, Richard, and Finian, their placid Maine Coon cat. Marcy can be reached at Moby.32@hotmail.com

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