Corn “R” Us

Miss the goal, and the soccer ball ends up in the corn.

I was following a truck the other day.  It had an advertisement on the back touting “Real Wisconsin Cheese.”  And I started thinking:   Though Wisconsin is known for cheese, it’s not like you can look out a window there and see it everywhere.  Sure, you can see the cows that contribute the milk, and there are signs that promote cheese and stores and little stands that sell it.  There are a few hundred factories scatted across the state that make it.  And of course you see people wearing cheese hats at football games.

But still, you don’t drive down the highway and look out at the beautiful cheese.

It’s like that in a lot of places – the thing an area is known for isn’t constantly visible, nor easily assessable, nor in proximity to everyone and everything.

West Virginia and Kentucky are known for coal.   But the coal is underground.  You might see miners and mining operations and coal on conveyors and rail cars and trucks.  But to be sure, coal isn’t constantly everywhere you look.

Kids play sports surrounded by corn

Texas is an oil state.  I was driving through there last week and saw the wells.  But I didn’t actually see any oil itself.

Maine is famous for lobsters, but I bet I could visit there and not see one.

You get the point.

But those who live where the corn grows really do live in the corn.  Every direction you look, there it is. Everyone who drives through or visits — they see it too.  Go atop the tallest building in the middle of any city in Iowa, look out, and on the horizon you will see corn.  Attend a baseball or a football or a soccer game in nearly any small town, and the playing fields likely abut the corn.  Pick up a newspaper on any day, and there is probably and article about corn.  Go from one town to the next, and you drive through corn.

It is so familiar, in fact, that most people don’t notice it, much less really think about its significance.  I suppose that happens when something is so common.  Do people who live in the mountains really notice the views each day?  Do those who live on the beach become sensitized to the constant sound of the waves?

Though we may not always think about it, however, corn is THE big deal here.  And what makes the relationship so special is its proximity to everything we do.  We grow up playing near it; thousands of people earn their living from it; much of what we eat is derived from it; many people are buried next to it.

Nighttime sports can seem almost eerie in the corn

They say that sailors can learn to read the ocean; they know its moods and temperament, they can sense things by the way the wind blows and the waves break and the air smells.  It’s like that with cornfields, too.  Live here long enough, and the corn becomes ingrained in your being, your soul, and your spirit.  It becomes, in fact, a part of who you are.

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