The glass windows of Shenendehowa High School were painted with a selfie of a uniformed boy, the other two students belonging to the school’s theater club. The front of the box office reads “Keep the spirit alive.” A sign outside reads, “Tustin and John Legend, inspirational champions of education.”
Those were the words that led me to Aarón Sánchez, owner of the Flea Market Taste Tortilleria in “chichonte,” the self-sophisticated name of the small town in Northumberland County where I spent several days this summer planting corn. Both Aarón and John Legend are distant cousins of mine, and a pair of their different shiksas came to Aarón’s modest restaurant with me in order to meet him and meet his business partners (in 2015, Aarón quit his day job to found Aarón’s Diner, and he and wife Rita purchased the Flea Market Taste, which is situated across the street from that establishment).
Although Sánchez is separated from John by more than a decade, he knew that John had not visited the Flea Market Taste, so when I asked him what it was that he enjoyed so much about farming in Northumberland County, he pointed to the flourishing corn fields.
“I love the weed thing,” he told me, laughingly holding up two plant stems, “The grayouts.” (“Grayouts” are small pieces of the ground vegetation stuck to each clump of corn, making the corn look almost translucent.)
“They’re more like seeds,” he added, looking more serious, “and they’re fun.”