Sometimes we don’t know what’s on our minds until we wake from a dream in a dark room. This is especially true for me when I’m working on a first draft, living a story in my head as I set down rows of words and take most of them back. Last night I dreamed of watching our car fall into a roar of rushing white water as a flash flood created a ravine where our road had been. My husband and an elderly neighbor who’s been dead for ten years tried to wrest it back from the edge, but it got away from them and sank as the water rose closer to our homes. Then, of course, I woke.
The night was extraordinarily still. The air conditioning fan had switched itself off, and the windows were closed. The house was hot, airless. Hannah the Lab thought it would be fun to go outside since I was awake anyway, but I wouldn’t let her. Earlier in the evening a skunk had sprayed nearby, and I was in no mood to let Hannah offer herself as a playmate having been through that last summer. I thought about the irony of a flood dream during the worst drought since the fifties and wondered about the strange places the mind takes us: how often we try to correct a situation by veering toward its opposite.
Yesterday afternoon I bought sweet corn from a farmer a half-mile up the road from us. As I paid for it and other vegetables, I mentioned how late his corn is this year. Usually he’s been selling it for weeks by now. He said, “This is the first, picked a couple of hours ago, and we’ve only got maybe a week to ten days worth. We plant in waves and this planting is the only one we’ll be able to pick from. The rest of it’s all lost to the drought. ” Normally he sells sweet corn from mid-July until mid-September at his own big on-site market as well as trucking it to other area markets. Brian uses a natural fertilizer and no pesticides, and his corn is always the best of any. Most of what he raises, though, is field corn.
“You lost your crop last year too, didn’t you?” I said, suddenly remembering.
“Yep,” he said. “Last year it was the spring floods. We couldn’t plant.”
I’d planned to buy eight ears but went ahead and bought a dozen. We took it to our friends’ house where we were going for dinner. Boiled quickly, it was exquisitely tender and indescribably sweet. None of us could believe how good, how delicate and delicious it was, that gift of the earth that came to us from the space between way too much and not nearly enough.