THE FIFTH EAR AND CHERRY TONGUE

The time has come round again. Our local corn is ripe. You can tell because the price of corn drops abruptly. We used to get ten ears for a dollar, but inflation has arrived, so now they are selling it at five ears for a dollar. I love fresh corn and am always pleased when we can get it fresh and for so little money.

There are only two of us in this house.

“I should buy the fifth ear,” I say, conversationally to the woman shucking corn next to me. “But there are just two of us. What can I do with a fifth ear?”

“I know,” she says. “There are four of us and that fifth ear, well …” She stopped and thought. “It’s pretty good the next day, even cold.”

“True,” I said. And I shucked the fifth ear and tucked it in the bag with the other four. We had two of them yesterday and I cooked three today. One is sitting on the counter. Who will eat it? It might be me. Later, but first … cherries.

It is not just corn season. It’s fresh cherry season. The season is short. You’ve got three, maybe four weeks during which time cherries are delicious and cheap. After that, the price goes up while the quality goes down. I buy as many cherries as I believe I can possibly eat and believe me, that’s a lot of cherries. I knew I was eating a lot of cherries last night when I discovered the tips of my fingers and fingernails are dyed  red.

My tongue is sore.

My tongue started bothering me last week. It felt just like a pizza burn. My lips and gums were also sore. I thought maybe it was the pizza we’d eaten the week before, but as the days dragged on, I began to worry. When you come from a family with a lot of cancer in it — and have had it twice yourself — when something feels strange or wrong, you wonder if you’ve come down with a new form of cancer. Oral cancer? I had been running doom and gloom statistics in my head for the past few days. I decided to comfort myself with a bowl of cherries.

As I was biting down, I could feel a slight burning in my gums and when I pushed the pit out of the cherry, I had an epiphany. My tongue was sore from popping the pits out of cherries. It was also why my tongue, gums, and lips were all hurting. There’s a lot of acid in cherry juice and for the past couple of weeks, I’ve been having a deeply intense and personal cherry experience.

Cherry tongue! My tongue is sore from pushing out pits.

I tapped Garry. He took off his headphones and looked at me.

“My tongue is sore. My lips and gums are sore. It’s the cherries,” I announced.

“I’m sorry. You’ve lost me. Cherries?”

“Yes,” I said. “Cherries. Every day, I’ve been eating a big bowl of cherries and pushing the pits out with my tongue, It has made the tip of my tongue very sore. Where it rubs against the rough cherry pit. And the red stain on my fingers and the soreness in the rest of my mouth? Cherries. It’s all about cherries.”

He looked at me. Thought for a moment. “When,” he said, “will these tragedies stop destroying our lives?”

A fifth ear and an overdose of cherries … no respite in sight! At least, not until the cherry and corn season is over.

21 thoughts on “THE FIFTH EAR AND CHERRY TONGUE

  1. Our corn is not even showing yet, just tall green plants in the field and that is the corn they feed the animals with. Corn is no big deal here, although you can buy it in the store. I don’t mind it but my diabetes does. Our cherry harvest in Switzerland froze this year, so it remains expensive and there are not so many. I like them but the only fruit I eat at the moment is nectarine.

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    • We don’t get good “soft” fruit here. Apples, yes. But our peaches and nectarines tend to be hard and dry. They are all imported from central America or California and they pick them too early, so they never ripen properly.

      Locally, we get melons — cantaloupe and honeydew and watermelon — as well as corn. This is early corn. We will get late corn in August and September. The cherries come from Oregon, mostly, but the season is very short. Apples won’t be ready until late September. We also get local cucumbers, squash, tomatoes, and other salad stuff. Honey, too. But nectarines don’t grow well in this climate. You can buy them, but they are always a big disappointment. Sometimes we get some decent plums later in July. Oh, and grapes. Lots of grapes and mountains of potatoes. New York — Long Island — used to be a major grower of potatoes, but I think they built houses there, so now the potatoes come mostly from Maine.

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  2. When I was six we lived in Mission, BC. We had a hazelnut tree, a plum tree and 2 huge cherry trees. We’d climb up in the cherry trees and help ourselves. When the hazelnuts were ready we could get on the garage roof and with a hammer. Nearby there were many raspberry bushes – free for he picking. That was a long time ago …

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    • I had a huge pear tree in the first house I lived in as an adult. It was a very enthusiastic pear tree. The problem was, to get the pears down someone had to climb the tree. Otherwise, you could sit UNDER the tree and wait for a pear to brain you. I learned to make pickled pears, spiced pears, pear pie. I invented recipes and there were more than enough so that neighbors came with children who could climb and bushel baskets.

      Fruit trees are GREAT!

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  3. I grew up in the Okanagan Valley, where you could pluck cherries right off the tree. I remember cherry tongue. I also remember what eating too many cherries can do. We used to get 12 ears of corn for $1.00. Today, it’s 5 ears of corn for 2.50. Those were the days. Pre-teens running around all summer long swimming in one of two lakes, feasting on corn on the cob. I’m allergic to corn, but I couldn’t help myself. There’s something about fresh grown corn on the cob that nothing can compare to.

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    • Mine is in the fridge. Wrapped. Waiting. I will eat it for lunch.

      The cherries, ah the cherries. I have a permanent stomach ache with consequences, but i am beyond help. Besides, the problem will go away in a week when the cheap, good cherries are gone. The corn, however, will keep coming.

      How do you NOT buy that fifth ear? It’s just 20 cents! You can’t buy anything for twenty cents.

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