Monday, October 4, 2010

Ode to the Northern Spy

Northern Spy
For the perfect pie. Slice up eight Northern Spy.

These apples are poetry in a pie shell. The Northern Spy still tops the charts as one of the best pie apples. I'd have an orchard full if I could, and with that in mind, saved every single seed from the apples I peeled. The apple grower at the orchard where I purchased these beauties told me that Spys produce a bumper crop one year and a meager one the next. Perhaps that is why you don't see them on every growers' top ten list. But isn't that just the way with heirlooms. They resist being common. I'm wondering if staggering your plantings could balance the harvest out.

I had planned on a trip to the county fair with my cohorts this weekend but a rather spectacular tumble down the stairs headfirst put the kibosh on that. There was no way I could wade through crowds with a sprained ankle and wrenched knee, no matter how badly I wanted to see the prize pigs and preserves. As it stood, it was a happy decision to bail, because instead I took a drive into the country alone, gloriously alone, to buy some freshly picked apples. There I was surrounded by the best of nature. Vibrant foliage, fresh air and the sounds of wind in the trees, not the rumbling masses.

I let my car carry me down unfamiliar winding roads, brilliant with colorful foliage, stopping only when I felt inclined. A winery, a farmer's corn roast, at two separate pick-your-own-apples orchards and a farmer's yard for fresh eggs. On my travels I had face time with all the goats, rabbits, chickens, pigs, sheep and turkeys I wanted.

I came home with bushels of crisp Macintosh, Spy, ears of peaches and cream corn, farm fresh eggs and bags of rhubarb and black raspberries. Happiness.


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