Posts Tagged ‘Midwest’


Is It Corn Yet?

July 31, 2008

I consider myself an expert on corn. No pun intended — I mean corn, the crop.

For example, I know it should be knee-high by the 4th of July. I look to see how it’s doing when I drive around Indiana, nice and green or too brown. I know it needs to be detasseled and that kids and teens often do that as a summer job. I even found out, finally, what a combine is–a combination harvester and thresher (thanks to Richard Rhodes’ book Farm: a Year in the Life of an American Farmer).

My late mother loved to tell a story from her visit to Iowa when I lived there in the 1970s. As we drove along the country highway, she asked me to stop and get some corn for dinner, to which I replied disdainfully, “That’s field corn. You can’t eat it.” I don’t know why she thought that was so hilarious. To me, it was just something you know if you know corn, the way you know that local home-grown corn isn’t ready before August.

This has been an stressful year for corn. Thanks to the ethanol craze, corn prices doubled and farmers planted more to meet the demand. Sadly, floods in the Midwest devastated many potentially lucrative fields.

I will continue to keep an eye on the corn as I drive around this summer. As a Hoosier, I consider it part of my job.

This entry was posted by: Nancy

One of Us

May 9, 2008

Who was it that once said, “Culture is what you need to know to be one of the folk”? The saying is, strangely, ungoogleable, so I can’t tell you. It might have been historians David Kyvig and Myron Marty. In any case, my thoughts about being a Midwesterner begin with this notion.

The Indiana Humanities Council, in the person of former senior program officer David Hoppe, once convinced Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., to write an essay entitled To Be a Native Middle-Westerner. Vonnegut was born in Indianapolis. I was born in Chicago, on account of a history that begins in a WWII internment camp. So what do we have in common?

Vonnegut says it’s an understanding of the inevitability of rain, of rivers, water that we are gifted with here at the crossroads of (natural waterways in the original) America. I agree. My brothers, living in southern California, would be quite unable to comprehend a land where you never have to water your lawn, all summer long, but just trust that this year there won’t be a drought. We don’t put pipes under our lawns to insure against dry conditions; we just hope and wait for the sky to darken. It’s what we learned as children.

What you need to know to be a Midwesterner. Our culture.

This entry was posted by: Nancy