Compared to the Sea

I make a U-turn. The driving today tires me. Miles of Iowa roads shuffling kids to sports and summer activities equal a road trip to California and back. A sign in front of the roadside stand says “Sweet Corn.” Good, I’ll skip the grocery store, I think.


Before we relocated to the Midwest eight years ago, our California summers produced a harvest of peaches collected from backyard trees every July. We surrendered those trees, along with swims in the Pacific Ocean and picnics in the Sierras. In exchange, we gained cornfields, a wide, muddy river, and limestone bluffs.


I scan the vegetable stand, hoping to see peaches, but settle on half a dozen ears of corn, supper for tonight.


“You going to clean them?” the farmer asks my four-year-old son. Born Iowan, he looks up at her and shrugs.


“I’ll show him how,” I say, and decide then to savor the tradition like locals do. Same as I savor breezes that remind me of the coast. When gulls fly overhead, I count the river my seaside.

Writing Prompt: This was a 175-word story I wrote for University of Iowa's summer writing contest. Fitting a story into 175 words is a great challenge to choose which words to keep or cut.


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