Where the Tall Corn Grows by Rick Friday

I could have been born where the sawgrass meets the sky or where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain or even beneath the smoky mountain rain, but I was born in this place where the tall corn grows. A place where city meets country and where the Mississippi and the Missouri divide. A place where humidity can grow as high as the corn and where the landscape weeps at sunset. A place where you can see a Goldfinch sitting on the stem of a Wild Prairie Rose bush flourishing beneath the shade of a mighty Burr Oak tree. A place that was once the home of a people Native Americans called “The Sleepy Ones.”
I was raised in a land where the corn tassels grow well above a young boy’s head and I was taught at an early age to not panic if I was ever lost within a cornfield. My father told me to follow a row and it will lead me to the edge of the field and if I didn’t follow his instructions I could still be there in the fall when he harvested the corn. Many times I traveled blindly through a cornfield to take a shortcut to a friend’s house or to challenge myself for no other reason than to see how long it would take to reach the other side. Sometimes I would run as fast as I could through the rows of corn and whiz by the heavy ears hanging from sturdy stalks like they were dotted lines on a speedy highway. Pollen would fill my eyes and the corn leaves would cut and scratch my face and my forearms, but the discomfort was quickly forgotten when the row came to an end and the world opened back up again.
Corn is appreciated by all of our senses, our sight, touch, smell, taste and hearing. Deep dark green in color, the plants can grow as high as twelve feet, making it highly visible and very captivating. The feel of the leaf blades are rough on the topside and soft underneath and the stalk is sturdy and fibrous. During Summer’s humid evenings you can smell the corn sweating all around you. The taste of sweet corn is delightfully delicious. It has been said that on a still night you can actually hear the corn growing and with a gentle breeze a field of corn will speak to you with a thousand voices. I feel fortunate to have been born here where the tall corn grows and I still call this land my home and find its serenity simply A-Maizing!

Rick Friday is a farmer (from Union County, Iowa), cartoonist, and writer published worldwide with a weekly and monthly print circulation of 193,000. He’s also a Union County Supervisor, and has a whole passel of grandchildren, a couple of them are shown with him.


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