The cornfield rain dance

Published 7:44 pm Tuesday, July 15, 2014

By Rex Alphin

Okay, I would rather this not get around. Let’s keep it just between you and me, seeing as we go so far back. You know I would hate to be thought of as less than rational, but regardless, here is my story.

As you know, up until last Thursday, we were dry. Corn rolled up tight and hard looking like anorexic skeletons. Gasping for breath with nowhere to go for shade, yellow feet perched on hot soil with a lifeless death-climb headed up to the tassel.

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Some — I saw this myself — keeled right over, like prisoners on a death march. It was all I could do to ride by without grimacing as I watched these soldiers in formation losing their battle against the sun.

Then here she comes. Yeah, baby. A three-inch rain, straight from the sky in July. Next morning as I approached — and here is where it gets interesting — I could hear them talking before I got there.

Sounded like a party going on, right out there in the middle of the field. They were throwing silk at each other, kicking water around, laughing, wallowing in the mud, singing songs, reaching for the sky. So involved were they in their gaiety, they did not perceive my presence until I was close.

Suddenly realizing they had been spotted, they all completely stopped, like statues. Then I stopped. They stared at me, wondering what my reaction would be. I realized this was the point of decision.

“What the heck,” I thought, and dove right in there with them. It was all they needed. They threw mud on me. I wrestled them to the ground amongst their laughter and they fell on me like kids in a swimming pool. We ran around and jumped in the air and did a few somersaults. My, what a celebration.

Eventually, I found my way out of that field, trudged home, cleaned up and changed clothes. My pickup truck was waiting for me as I slid in and went back to work.

I haven’t told many people this story for fear of being institutionalized. I know it sounds crazy, but I thought I could share it with you.

So the next time you drive by a cornfield in July after a big rain, don’t let those silent, rigid cornstalks fool you. They are just waiting for you to pass by so they can start celebrating.

Rex Alphin of Walters is a farmer, businessman, author, county supervisor and contributing columnist for the Suffolk News-Herald. His email address is