Tuesday, July 4, 2017

HOW GREEN IS THE VALLEY


Rain falls on the 4th of July, threatening the flag raising, Arts and Crafts Fair, the cake contest, Cornhole Contest, the parade, and the Air Show, not to mention the fireworks blowout at Sewanee, Tennessee where I live part of the year. However, for Valley farmers near Cowan and Winchester, Tennessee, I give thanks for the recent heavy showers.

I’m glad I went down to Lapp’s in the Valley to garner my week’s supply of corn yesterday. This small market of plants and produce has been selling yields of the sweetest, most tender corn I’ve tasted in many a year, and the fields, amply watered by rain this year, are still a robust shade of green. In fact, the entire valley is a verdant carpet right now, and not all the ironweed and milkweed along roadsides have been sprayed or mowed down. However, recently we did have to search for Chicory plants to photograph for a book of poetry I’m writing.

Tennessee harvested 830,000 acres of corn last year, and if the Valley is any indicator of production, growth should exceed that harvest in 2017. I missed National Corn Cob Day June 11, but I appreciate the hoorah given this succulent vegetable. Coupled with barbecue ribs, corn on the cob is the quintessential food for 4th picnics, and I have six ears on the kitchen counter waiting for consumption.

The corn sold at Lapp’s is homegrown in fields behind his flower and produce market, and he should know how to cultivate this plant because he formerly lived in Amish country near Lawrenceburg, Tennessee where farming is part of the Amish lifestyle. Some of Lapp’s produce includes giant tomatoes that exceed the size of the usual store-bought mushy-fleshed tomatoes, and when cooked make delicious homemade tomato sauce for pasta.

Lately, I’ve enjoyed riding down The Mountain from Sewanee to The Valley — Cowan, Winchester, and Tullahoma — a drive that reminds me of coming out of the desert onto the curving road leading to Big Sur, California in the spring/summer. Sometimes I envision living in the Valley where I can look up at The Mountain, rather than living on the Cumberland Plateau and searching for places where I can peer over the bluff at the Valley below; however, I have no desire to live on the bluffs near Sewanee because I’ve heard that winds and storms in these areas are fierce.

Rumors are that property in the Valley is $100,000 cheaper than on The Mountain, but, alas, temps in the summer are often as much as eight degrees hotter. Yet, when I round the curve near Winchester and see the green fields (unfortunately, some of which are brown from herbicide enthusiasts) stretching out in the foothills of the Cumberlands, and the red barns gleaming on the landscape, I have a yen to drop down into a more pastoral setting … where I can buy fresh, sweet corn every day when it’s in season.

Happy 4th! Hope your picnic lunch includes a sweet ear of corn!


Photographs by Victoria I. Sullivan




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