Corn and Humans

I planted no winter crops this year. I seem to have lost the get-up-and-go to get up and do things in the garden, which is perfectly fine – weeds and unruly bushels of lawn-grass use carbon dioxide and sequester carbon in the soil, too.

Last summer, I planted out the box-trailer that had helped me move house with several varieties of tomatoes, two varieties of corn, some lemongrass and a few pumpkin vines that turned out not to be the butternut I had been promised but gramma pumpkins, that cascaded over the sides and took over a portion of the lawn along a fence-line, making it a lot prettier with first their deep orange flowers, then their swelling fruits, symbol of the earth-mother’s fertility.

I still have grammas ripening on one of the vines, although the others have finished and died back. And when I cut down the corn stalks to mulch them, I found in amongst the browned leaves, a tiny, semi-developed, dried-out ear with some undeveloped seed on it and some viable seed. I immediately unwrapped them, pushed them off the ear with my fingers, and scattered them back in the trailer-full of decomposing lawn-clippings supplemented with the fruits of my composting system. Many of them grew despite the increasing cold, but they grew stunted. They are far less than half a metre tall (less than a foot in the archaic measurement), but have flowered. And though miniaturised, two of them now have well-developed, full-sized ears on them, swelling with fecundity and fountaining delicious and therapeutic cornsilk from their crowns. We will enjoy them with reverence and wonder at the struggle of life against adverse conditions.

I often wonder about humans. They harvest corn in bulk commercially, which comes pre-wrapped in green husks, which keep the dirt off it and keep it perfectly fresh for longer. Then they strip off all or most of the husks – and have to wrap it in the by-products of the Oil Industry to keep it clean and prevent it drying out too soon.

Twisted off the plant, it comes with a perfect little handle, ideal for both adult hands and toddler-hands. They also chop off this handle, necessitating that people buy corn-handles to be able to eat it. What are they made of? The shiny, pointy bits are made of unsustainably mined metals, and the colourful plastic handles, which end up in landfill, are made once again of the by-products of the petroleum industry.

And all the while the corn came with its own bio-degradable handle, that came from the earth and will return to the earth harmlessly without requiring machinery and fuel to mine and more machinery and fuel to manufacture.

Humans. Even the well-intentioned ones just can’t help themselves. They chant slogans like “think globally act locally” – then buy unsustainable corn handles to replace the natural ones cut off the industrially grown corn that doesn’t taste as fine as the stuff they could have raised themselves with minimal effort.

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