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 three of us in this house and five is just the wrong numbers of corn.
“I should buy the fifth ear,” I say, conversationally to the woman shucking corn next to me. “But there are three of us. What can I do with a two extra ears?
“I know,” she says. “There are four of us. That fifth ear is always left over.” She stopped and thought. “Though it’s pretty good the next day, even it it’s cold. And 20 seconds in the nuke warms it up pretty well.”
“True,” I said. I shucked the fourth and fifth ears into the bag. At 20 cents an ear, it wasn’t a major investment. Meanwhile, there are the 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 cherry red.
Also, my tongue is sore.
My tongue started bothering me last week. It felt just like a pizza burn. My lips and gums were sore too. I thought maybe it was pizza we’d eaten last week, 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?”
Five ears of corn with an overdose of cherries and no respite in sight. At least, not until the cherry and corn season is over. Meanwhile, we bought lots of extra ears because it’s a holiday weekend and maybe we’ll feel like eating as well as a watermelon and two more pounds of cherries. The season will end any day now and I need my full dose of cherries.
Have a happy fourth of July!