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The first kernel

My inspiration came yesterday while preparing our popcorn harvest for drying. My husband and I sat by the wood stove in the living room pulling back the husks on a basket of ears brought in from the garden. I'd planted three varieties this year in hopes of finding something more interesting than the Japanese Hulless usually available. I had found three - Tom Thumb - a short, yellow popcorn; Ruby Red - a tall, brilliantly red breed; and Thanksgiving - a brown heirloom variety from a local non-profit, Project Grow - and planted them all together. My spring thought was "Why not?"

I intermixed these seeds further with nasturtiums, squash, and beans. It got a little crowded and crazy as the season moved along, but I confess to delighting in the resulting green madness. Nothing makes me happier than having to carefully step around wandering vines and blossoms, forsaking the orderliness of my garden rows and paths to these green guests.

The popcorn we saw yesterday was worth the effort. Beautiful cobs of burgundy red kernels, caramel to dark brown, and a mix of colors - gold, burnt red/blue, and brown - that we also know will taste spectacular. The thrill of watching for the seedlings, the rush of adrenalin when I ran down to the garden to shoo away the mourning doves from the freshly planted rows, the continued joy and anxiety of daily checking to see their progress, the rustling of the leaves while I worked in the shade of my new tall friends are but a few of the things that flashed through my mind while we hung them on the porch. I'm grateful to have grown it, and I'll be even more grateful to eat it with friends over the course of the winter.

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