Jimmy Crow …
When I was about three we lived on a farm just outside Cle Ellum, Washington in the Pacific
Northwest. The town lay to the east of the Cascade Mountains. I never knew the name of the town till I
was much older, for everyone said we lived “East of the mountains”. That’s the way it was back then –
you lived either west of the mountains or east.
I remember the day Dad packed up the car and took Mom and us kids to Grandma and Grandpa’s
home on the west. It was a long drive and I slept most the way. Not long after we were settled Dad and
Grandma helped Mom deliver my little brother. That made five of us kids. Then Dad took the two
older boys and left to get back to the farm. I did not realize the reason for all this till years later. I do
remember Grandpa took over care of my sister and I while Grandma took care of Mom and the new
baby. Daddy was my whole world and I was sad when he left. I blamed it on the baby, because Dad
was so proud of the little red-headed stranger. I felt pushed aside as the baby of the family.
A few weeks later Dad and the boys returned and took us all home to the farm. That is when we met
Jimmy Crow. You see, Dad must have been awfully lonesome when we were gone. He made a pet of
one of the young crows that hung around the place. Dad loved that crow so much that for the second
time I felt displaced. Jimmy Crow was a large bird with feathers so black and shiny they glistened in
the sunlight. He was attached to Dad and the two of them were rarely separated. When Dad was
working anywhere on the farm Jimmy was close by or sitting on Dad’s shoulder.
At supper time Jimmy Crow was allowed to enter the kitchen and sit at table with us. After Dad said prayers and the plates were served up and passed around, Jimmy hopped from one head to the next for a bite of food. I was quite small and the weight of Jimmy on my head felt odd, like a heavy hat. He would stare at my plate waiting for a tidbit. I would pick up a bean or corn kernel and pass it up to Jimmy, hoping he would not stab my fingers with his pointy beak. When Dad smiled approval at me I knew I was still his little girl and all was right again. If Jimmy got what he wanted he would hop over to the next head till he had made his round at the table. By the time supper was over Jimmy had eaten quite a lot. That is when he liked to sit on Mom’s shoulder and snatch one of her earrings then hide it somewhere in the kitchen.
Jimmy was born in the corn field, which was huge, at least three acres or more, on the other side of
a creek out behind the house. Jimmy was quite intelligent. He knew when it was time to head to the
corn field every day when the plowing or other work in the outer fields was done. He would leave
Dad’s shoulder and fly off then wait for Dad to come and pick corn for supper. The finest of cobs were
picked with the approval of Jimmy Crow as he checked each one. When they had enough corn for all of
us they would head to the back of the house and shuck the cobs then take them into Mom in the
kitchen just in time for her to plunge that ripe corn into the pot of boiling water.
Now, there is a proper way to boil corn on the cob. Some people put them in a pot of cold water, salt
them and let the water come to a boil. They boil them for 20 minutes or so. That is not the way to do
it. If you want the fresh taste of corn with kernels that hold their sweetness, do not boil the heck out of
them. You will only get softened, withered kernels that are dried out and tough to chew. Kernels that
pop when you bite and release that wonderful taste is very easy to achieve. Put cold water in the pot
and let it come to a boil. Add about a tablespoon of sugar, which brings out the sweet freshness of the
corn, drop in the cobs, put a tight fitting lid on the pot and boil for only about five minutes. There
ain’t no better way to do it. How do you butter corn on the cob? The easiest way is to grab a slice of
bread, slather butter on it and wrap it around the cob, twisting it back and forth till all the corn is
buttered. This is the proper way to cook and butter corn and it was the way Jimmy Crow liked it.
~ ~ ~
© 2016 Phyllis Doyle Burns
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