One of the curious features of the late autumn landscape is the abundance of untouched food. Fields of soybeans, corn, or oats may leap to mind, but the fields of this tasty treat seem to be the last people think of. Yet, there it is. Or, rather, there they are. Drive any country road in Upstate and these neat little packages of pleasure will meet the eye along almost any stretch. Apples, apples, everywhere but not a hand in sight picking them.
That’s not entirely true, of course, because I’m well noted in my particular neck of the woods as the community apple thief. Yet I’m a very particular apple burglar. I have neither time nor inclination to hurtle over wild roses and hedgerows – up here usually thicker than Wrigley Field’s famed ivy wall – for just any apple. What? Do gastronomous business with a Macintosh, Cortland, or – heaven forbid! –Red Delicious? Perish the thought and those that promote them! Those apples are for the junior leaguers—those much bamboozled consumers, most of whom seem to lose all reason upon entering a supermarket. Well, can one blame them? They all left the farm decades ago, losing both good apple sense and a trained tongue for good taste.
The apples of yesterday’s farms, the apples with class, are there on the gnarled, magnificent, apple trees planted long ago and still pushing out apples on their own and with great success. Few reach for them. Russets, Transparents, and Spies. Roxburys, Baldwins, Pippins. When was the last time you sank your teeth into one of those? According to Cornell University, there were once over 700 varieties of apples in this country. How is it that the average supermarket has four? And worse, all the supermarkets have the same four varieties? That’s a sad tale for another day. What I see in these apples can be translated into what I can smell. Hot apple sauce, steaming apple pies, soft apple turnovers. Nothing beats the flavor and aroma of these grand old-timers. Hate to break it to the Domino Sugar Company, but added sugar is rarely required.
Just remember that the spice of life is out there on those old beauties. Run after one and take a bite out of mass production. Meanwhile, look for me in that distant grove or roadside tree. I’m there every fall. With my Woolx Merino Wool on and a step ladder on my shoulder, you’ll find me living life at the top. All of them.