EDITORIAL: A-maize-ing Grace


A-maize-ing Grace

Last weekend, along with everyone who happened to venture out-of-doors the evenings of Friday and Saturday, we witnessed the September full moon — one of the most spectacular events on the lunar calendar. Called the Harvest Moon, as it appears the closest to the autumnal equinox, which falls on September 22, it is the moon that, before electricity, provided farmers with three days of extended daylight hours by which to harvest their crops. According to Native American tradition, it’s a time for giving thanks and acknowledging one’s accomplishments.

In some years, if that appearance is closer to the autumnal equinox, the Harvest Moon occurs in October, in which case the September full moon is called the Corn Moon. Corn, as it is known in North America, or maize, as it is known in other parts of the world, is a cereal grain first grown by indigenous peoples in southern Mexico, around 10,000 years ago.

Among the six major types of maize, varieties of field corn are used for animal feed, corn oil, ethanol and, with fermentation and distillation, alcoholic beverages such as bourbon.

That’s the stuff we see in all our fields around the Lake and the rest of the county. It doesn’t quite do it for texture and our tastebuds so it’s not worth a try. Sweet corn — the silky ears we gather up at the Farmers’ Market and the roadside stands, or grow ourselves — is what we humans eat, steamed, roasted, grilled, and often swathed in butter and peppered with salt, in great quantities, during the month of August and into a bit of September. (Of course because of our reliable transportation industry, we now are able to find during the other months a lesser-quality sweet corn, neither as fresh nor as tasty, brought in from faraway places to our Village.)

The United States, it turns out, is the largest producer of corn, with China running a not-so-close second and Brazil and Argentina following. At last count there are 96 million acres reserved, throughout all 50 states, for corn production. The food is important enough to be represented on the United States Capitol, where it is carved into the capitals of the columns alongside tobacco leaves. It adorns the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota, where it is incorporated into a spectacular mural every year to not only please the many passersby but to serve as delicious winter fare for the birds; and it is also the subject of Field of Corn, an art installation in Dublin, Ohio, which consists of 109 concrete ears of corn standing upright in a grassy field.

Ah, corn. We have had a most productive season this summer, and as it comes to an end we want to remember and celebrate our delightful summer cobs.

The Hunter’s Moon will appear on October 9, the Beaver Moon on November 8, and the Cold Moon on December 7.

Watch for them, they will bring cheer to your hearts, even without the corn.

One thought on “EDITORIAL: A-maize-ing Grace

  1. Drew Downie

    These elitist editorials make me sad. Always about “the Village” and “the Lake” like the rest of the county doesn’t exist. We are here, too.

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