This past week, I have learned a new skill! It is fitting to my nature, as it is not something I need to do as a modern woman, but was a necessary task for a woman one hundred and fifty plus years ago. My hobbies vary in many ways, but in this, they are in lockstep; I definitely have a type, if you know what I mean.
The new skill? Corn shelling! For those who aren’t familiar with this term (I wasn’t), this is process by which one separates dry corn kernels from their cob, to the detriment of one’s nails, thumbs, and if you are me, neck. Yeah, I don’t know. It’s odd. Anywho. I was working with popping corn and flint (aka Indian) corn, both of which came from a local historic farm last October.
We went to the farm last October with the kids and another family, and the farm grows organic corn that you can pick and take as much as you want. It’s oddly satisfying to break the corncobs off the stalks… which is why we ended up with waaaaaay more than we could ever do anything with, and gave most of it back to the farm to use as livestock feed for the animals they keep. I kept a good sized bag of the prettiest cobs for… something. Part of me wanted to make some kind of Thanksgiving decoration. Or grind up the corn to make cornmeal! Or use the popping corn to actually make POPCORN! So many options.
We get home and my mom and I try to shell the kernels. It was ridiculously difficult. We used our fingers, we used butter knives, I’m pretty sure I slammed mine on the table out of frustration but also a tiny bit of hope that brute force would be effective. Nada. The cobs went back in their bag and sat. And sat. And sat. Until recently, in a shelter-in-place-fueled rampage of tidying, I decided since cobs have been sitting in my hallway for going on six months, it’s time they went out. So they did.
I put them on my porch to take down to our yard waste bin at a convenient moment. But of course, I kept forgetting (I don’t remember where my phone or keys are 80% of the time, so I’m not going to remember a bag of corn even if I step over it three times a day) so the bag sat there for a bit, too.
That is, until one afternoon where I was using my person as a human barricade to keep my son on the porch and not diving headfirst down the stairs. My daughter finds the bag of corn, grabs one of the cobs, and before she could finish asking me what it was, drops it. It hits the porch floorboards and kernels. fly. everywhere. My first instinct was to be annoyed, but then Sneaky Mama Brain kicks in and goes, “waitwaitwait, this could keep them distracted! This could be helpful!!”
make the mistake and pick one up and notice the kernels are coming out a lot easier now. And they are so pretty! And I could grind the Indian corn into pretty cornmeal and make rainbow cornbread! And this popping corn could become delicious POPCORN!
You see, I didn’t know it, but my own trash was my treasure. I just had to ignore it for six months. I’m sure my partner will be thrilled with this revelation! *innocent smile*