A Corny Joke

More than anything in his entire life our neighbor, third-grader Hansel wants to remember how the joke goes.  It’s about a corn field, and here he is standing next to our corn, pumpkin, and bean garden with a rapt audience — his first-grade sister Gretel, 4-year-old brother Batman, his mom, the Bearded One, and me.

I’ve just pointed out, in an educational first-week-of-school voice, that each corn stalk has just two ears of corn, and only two, just like humans.  “Oh!” Hansel’s eyes lit up like a Jack-o-lantern.  “Secrets…uh….”

Gretel smiles and claps her hands to her mouth.  She remembers the joke, but graciously defers since Hansel clearly thought of it first.  And he is big enough to clobber her.

Hansel tries again.  “When you are in a corn field…”  He flaps his hands.  The opening question of the joke isn’t coming together in his mind.  We wait.  Even Batman stops examining the biggest pumpkin in the patch to listen and hopefully laugh.

It’s hard to say which is growing faster, the 3 kids, the pumpkins —

— or the 2-week-old fryer chicks —

— that we just visited and where the Bearded One impressed Hansel with the power of a good joke.  Someone remarked how clean the chick’s tushes were compared to the last batch, and the Bearded One said, “They have little toilet paper rolls over in that corner,” which sent all the children and their good-natured, home-schooling mother into hysterics.

Now if only Hansel could remember how to start the corn joke.

Gretel leans over and whispers to Hansel…while we adults chat casually about letting the young meat chicks out of the brooder, but not until we sprinkle lots of Diatomaceous Earth over the chicken yard to handle parasites from the last birds’ poop.

And then we notice Hansel is bursting with the joke.

“Why shouldn’t you tell secrets in a corn field?” he says, grinning.  Gretel giggles in anticipation.

“Why not?” says Batman.

“Because the corn has ears!”  Hansel delivers the punch line beautifully, we all laugh heartily, and I swear Hansel grows another inch before our eyes.

Even though Batman isn’t completely convinced this is funny, he smiles, and then leads the way back up to the house to the promised fruit chips.

It’s Hansel’s idea to see the freezer full of harvested chickens.  He’s not sure they are okay to eat.  Heck — he came over and played with these guys while they were tiny chicks.

We show them the biggest one, which weighs almost 9 pounds.  He agrees that they look okay to eat, and their mom accepts a medium-sized one to take home.

The Bearded One hands out baggies of strawberry and peach fruit chips.  Hansel says, “Who likes peach best, raise your hand.”

Batman and Gretel like the strawberry best, so Hansel stands there with his hand raised.  They are so ready for school to start, I think.

We all troop out the back door and as they are leaving, I ask when their classes will be starting.

“Soon,” the mom says.  “We’re going to be studying the Middle Ages and the Egyptians.”

Hansel says, “I love history.”

“Me, too,” I say.  “Especially the Egyptians.”

“I hope we can go to the King Tut exhibit in Seattle,” the mom says, “if we can afford the tickets.”

“Oh, yes, you must go,” I say.

And then the Bearded One says, “The Egyptians?”

He is going to tell a joke, I can tell.  The kids can, too.  They stop moving.  They almost stop breathing.

“The Egyptians were great,” he says with a huge grin.  “They even invented…toilet paper.”

Remembering how we had just discussed the chicks and toilet paper, a riot of laughter breaks out. Hansel lifts his eyes to the heavens and says, “OH THANK YOU EGYPTIANS!” Gretel, who attended cheerleading camp this summer, jumps high and sings out, “YAY EGYPTIANS!”  Batman races around his mother who claps happily.

Here at the start of third grade, Hansel has noticed something important.  Few things are more powerful than being funny.

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7 responses to “A Corny Joke

  1. We are just about to start building our own polytunnel so that we can extend our growing season for tomatoes, eggplants, capsicums and all things delish. We got some old railway sleepers from an old American Hippy (Californian) who we help out a bit pruning his fruit trees and spending some time with as he has no family here and we are going to use them to make the base of our polytunnel. We are also in the process of rehousing our chooks. Big Yin is just going to have to yield to permaculture principals in a smaller enclosure as we need to be able to keep the moisture in our soil and our girls are expert soil movers. As your summer ramps down, ours is starting to ramp up and I love how we can share each others summers. I will make fruit chips this year, probably with peaches from the neglected orchard down the road that sells them “Pick your own” from the trees when they are dripping with juice and nectar sweet. Your jam has opened this savoury heart up to heavenly sweet possiblities and this year I bottle! I love that your neighbours children are home schooled. If they are ever interested in anything Aussie, let us know, we could do a post specially for them and put in all sorts of Aussie things. The only thing is that NOTHING quintessentially Aussie lives in tasmania…we don’t have kangaroos (just small wallabies), we don’t have koalas (just fat fruit scoffing possums), we don’t have much really but we DO have wombats and we do have a few remaining Tasmanian Devils that the loggers haven’t almost driven to extinction and as someone who prizes education and knowledge far above most other things, I would love to assist in the lernins of young home schooled Americans :). Have a great day Christi and give The Bearded One a squeeze from us. Steve’s stick career appears to have hit the deck and stayed there. He is “over” drawing sticks and has decided to put them on the back burner to build up for the occasional masterpiece when called for. He was never able to draw a few lines and put so much emotion into them as The Bearded One and I think that he got dejected with people mistaking his trousers for golfing plus fours and asking me when I started to wear dresses (NEVER!) ;). If you would like me to write an email for the neighbours about all things Aussie I could. Just let me know 🙂 I will even say “G’Day!” 😉

    • Thanks for the Aussie lesson offer, Fran, and I will definitely pass it along and let you know. And the Bearded One says thank you for the compliment on his stick drawings; I think they are wonderful, too.:) I also like Steve’s, though. We still talk of his Cockatrice of Doom.

      You’re heading into summer and we’re leaving it. I can feel the cycles of all of life when I really think about that. I love your friendship!

  2. As kids on my uncle’s farm in Iowa, we loved playing in his vast cornfield.
    Wish Hansel, Gretel, & Batman had seen the Medieval Faire (near Carnation) that I went to while I was in Seattle. Maybe one is performed in the autumn?
    Going to send you Cornfield Hike and Seek as a fun cornfield treat for your three bright delights.
    Love the stick drawing of all of you in the cornfield!!!!
    C

  3. Oh, Christine, the kids will love your wonderful picture book! It’s funny you mention books because I also offered for them to come over and “check out” some of the multitudes of children’s books we’ve got. They were psyched. And, yes, they’d love the Medieval Faire. I’ll mention it to their mom…I hadn’t even thought of that. Thanks!

  4. Loved all the jokes, but most especially the end part about “loving the Egyptians!” Just seemed poignant to me during this time of unrest in Egypt, while back here at home the innocence of loving another prevails!!!

  5. I agree, Suzanne. Sending love to the modern Egyptians as well.:)

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