By Maisie Dunlop
WABASSO, Minn. — They come by the busload to Jerry Grundahl’s farm in weather so cold that many die the moment they step off the bus. The survivors—roughly 65 percent of those who undertake the pilgrimage—line up to receive prophecies from a corn plant considered miraculous because repeated attempts to harvest it in September failed.
The lone corn plant, known by believers as “The Great Cob” or “The Divine Ear,” stands in the southeastern corner of Grundahl’s currently frozen acreage. One by one, the faithful approach the seven-foot stalk and shake it, causing plump kernels to break free of both cob and husk and fall to the ice-encrusted snow. Magically, when they settle, the yellow kernels form complete sentences, clear messages foretelling a person’s fate.
On a frigid day in early March, Helen Braunschweiger, a mother of three school-age children, turned from the corn plant and strode back to the bus while pumping a fist in the air.
“Yes!” she shouted, “yes, yes, yes, oh I’m so, so, so relieved. Want to know what the kernels said? They said, ‘You will not be denied health or dental insurance for your children by a pampered group of pious, pink-faced, potbellied Republican politicians.’”
Gary Sauerbraten, a single father of six boys between the ages of 2 and 17, jumped up and over the corn plant and back again after reading the arrangement of kernels in the snow.
“Yippeeeeeeeee!” he hollered with an ecstasy not often displayed openly in this rural area of southwestern Minnesota. “Know what the kernels said? They said, ‘Your boys will not be killed or maimed in war, nor will they return home from war with PTSD, because Democrats and Republicans in Congress will soon reform American foreign policy so that its focus will be to influence the world NOT through oafish and boneheaded military interventions, but through generous and intelligent humanitarian actions.’”
When asked if he himself had ever shaken the magic cornstalk on his property, Jerry Grundahl said that he had. “A couple weeks ago I woke in the middle of the night and couldn’t sleep, so I went out with a flashlight and gave the thing a good shake. I then shone the light on the kernels and could hardly believe what they said.
They said, “One day soon, when you think of America and imagine its many cornfields spread out across the land like a golden tapestry, and when you then think of the appalling number of know-nothing doofuses elected to serve or pretend to serve in Congress—one day soon, because of a truly miraculous election result, you will no longer want to scream ‘Oh shuck it all!’”