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Corn Hut
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November has arrived in earnest. Most of the deciduous trees are bare. In a few weeks we will be used to it, but now the landscape feels strangely open to the pale light falling from skies of charcoal and ash. A gusty biting wind spins copper leaves across the roadway. Here and there a hedgerow shelters an alizarin bush.

This was the month when my grandfather built the "corn hut" in the midst of the frozen furrows in the back garden. Corn shocks lashed to a wooden framework formed the walls and roof. Wheelbarrows-full of fragrant pine needles cushioned the floor. A canvas drop cloth hung from the doorway kept out the wind.

Inside, the air was a still, frigid pool, colder than outside, until you became accustomed to it. My friends and I would sit with a flashlight in the springy pine needles, exhaling luminous clouds, while we laid out plans for the week.

By the end of November, the garden was frozen. The remains of the hills from which the potatoes had been unearthed, the craters marking where the largest of the rutabagas had been pulled up, would remain, fossilized, until spring, along with the straight rows of corn stubble and tangles of blackened vines.

We ventured out from the hut to explore. We always found a few enormous cucumbers and a squash or two that had hidden successfully beneath the vines and eluded harvest. By November, their camouflage had withered, and they lay exposed, misshapen, frost bitten and half translucent, preserved in the midst of decay.

It was in the corn hut that I traded my complete set of Davy Crockett bubble gum cards for some plastic trucks I can barely recall. I had collected the cards over the course of a sweltering summer. That was another world, and what had happened there no longer seemed important in November.

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