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How Do You Like Them Apples?
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Autumn is apple time. Sure, these days it seems like you can get any kind of apple, all year long at the grocery. If they aren't in season in the United States they're being harvested in New Zealand or Peru. But I grew up with apple trees in the backyard and my grandmother waiting for them to ripen in order to fill the cellar shelves with jars of apple sauce.

I wish I could recall what kinds there were. If only kids had the sense to pay more attention to the things they'll want to know fifty years later.

My grandparents brought grafts from the orchards at the farm when they moved closer to town and each apple tree boasted at least two varieties. The tree in which my tree house was built featured the biggest, and ugliest apples I've ever seen but even the name of those escapes me. There were no Northern Spies, however. That I know because I do recall my grandmother anxiously visiting farmers' markets in her yearly quest for the elusive Spies. I don't see them at the local supermarkets.

Mary and I like to sample different apples. This weekend we've enjoyed Jonagold, Cortland and Macoun. There are plenty of apples around that weren't available, or even discovered, when I was a kid. Cripps Pink and Gala for instance. Last week we bought some plain old McIntosh and crunching into one brought back childhood autumns and Halloween.

The McIntosh was the default eating apple where I lived. It defined what an apple tasted like and over the years I tired of them. At Halloween, when we went trick-or-treating there was nothing more infuriating than having people toss boring old McIntosh apples into your bag. And they were heavy too.

But last week, the taste was fresh and new again, while at the same time providing a bite of the past. Okay, for Proust it was a madeleine, for me a McIntosh. I have no idea what conclusions to draw.

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