Home is Where the Nose Is

“If you are possessed by an idea, you find it expressed everywhere, you even smell it”.~ Thomas Mann


A pyramid of corn stalks rests on the granite counter.  Yet again, I’ve put little thought into what we’d eat for dinner.   The corn was purchased, two for a dollar, at the market a few days prior.  The girls have taken a liking to corn on the cob, especially when the butter is thick enough to dribble down their chins and their eager hands grasp quintessential corn holders.

[Mom trick:  It’s ALL about the corn holders]

“It couldn’t be that bad”, I think to myself as I eye the browning husks.  “It’ll go just lovely with frozen pizza”. Bwah-haha!

Another gourmet feast in the Land of  Tired and Cranky begins.


I hold the stalk in both hands.   I tear at a rough, green shuck and peel it back.  Underneath lies another layer.   Silks from the ear of corn begin to appear.   In this shucking, I smell it.


Held in my very, increasingly wrinkled, hands.

Then and there, for the first time in all my years, I realized that the aroma of home is cornfields.  Rows and rows of corn, damp from the morning fog, huddled together as close as a waddle of penguins.

Rows that call to adventurous kids and randy teenagers, begging for exploration and the losing of one’s self.

Rows in which my father careened a friend’s new MG through in 1966  (as that best friend smoked cigarettes in the jungles of Vietnam).

Rows that, each Indiana Autumn, become corn mazes and haunted fields on Halloween.

Rows that my dad sowed with bare feet in Ozark soil, enjoying the yield in late summer at a rate of almost a dozen ears a day.

Rows that produced the crunchiest corn that my siblings and I shucked and canned at the big window in the kitchen every summer.

Endless rows along the highways from my mama’s house to my daddy’s house, every other weekend for 14 years.

Corn.  The smell of my heart’s home.

I ponder that.

It’s not the brine of the ocean, or the coal of the smokestacks.  It’s not the flowering of pink lilies in the valley, or the wafting of cow manure on the pastures.

It’s corn.

It feels right and earthy and green and solid and strong like farm-hands and alive and a bit…corny.

And I am in love with it.


I move on to exfoliating the silks, as light as the hair that hangs in Indigo’s aqua eyes.   There is simple joy in this task.   I let it tumble over me, knowing that beautiful chaos will descend upon me in a matter of moments.   This is, after all, the Land of Tired and Cranky.

The water flows over the ears of corn as my hands rub them gently.    The sound of hands on freshly washed ears of corn brings a smile to my lips;  the sound of squeaky rubber or a creaky rocking chair.


I channel Jason’s grandmother as I wash.

Weeks prior we visited her in her cozy home, built by her late husband – brick by brick.  I stood by the basin as she washed dishes after a too-large meal.  Observing.  I followed her fingers, nails scrubbed clean and rounded just so.   Her blue veins read like a well-worn map of back country roads, leading to the sea.   Each plate was swished with soap methodically, as if hands were making love.   Her fingernails would occasionally pause to scrape a bit of food off the dish.   Some dishes weren’t rinsed and I’d coyly run those briefly under a few drops of water before placing them back in the drying rack.  We spoke quietly of many things, and I hugged her asking how tall she was.

“Oh now?”, she gurgled with a laugh.  “Now, under 5 feet I suspect”, she murmured into my shoulder.

As so, in this present moment, I slow down.   The white niblets of corn gleam like teeth under the kitchen lights.  The yellow bits send me into internal giggles, because oh my lord, how many times have I seen those in my daughter’s diapers?

Indigo meanders into the kitchen and squeals “CORN!”


While a tad bit mushier than normal, the corn turned out as corn should.   Salty and sweet in all the right places.   Like the girls we’ve raised together.

“Look, mama, teeny tiny corns!”, Kaia grins, pointing to the corn holders.


And I wonder, is it possible to not smile while eating corn on the cob?


3 Comments Add yours

  1. janistan says:

    My question is, is it possible to not read your words and feel one’s heart swell and one’s lips curl up?
    Gorgeous post. love ya. xo

  2. Chelsea says:

    Lovely post, as always… thanks for letting us in on your memories…
    And my kids love corn on the cob too, we actually had it last night, corn holders and all – and Rosie loves to let me know when she sees the corn re-emerge in her poo…..

  3. dad says:

    Two for a dollar!?!

    And I gave away hundreds of ears this summer. The cornfields of the midwest await you.


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