The first Saturday of September, the air felt less dense than recent humidity. A weather warning flashed across my phone predicting a tropical storm approaching the Gulf of Mexico. Perhaps this was cause for the light September breeze. The week before, I baked my first apple pie of the season, and since then, I’ve contemplated a trip to the Western North Carolina Farmers Market. I’m convinced Georgia grows the very best peaches, and North Carolina produces the best apples south of New England.
Breakfast in Alabama, and by late afternoon, I selected apples at the market along the French Broad River. I chose Cortland and Rome for baking over the holiday weekend, and at the farmer’s insistence that my bag wasn’t yet full, I added a few small Galas and a Honey Crisp. Then as I paid him, he gave me change, saying, “Here, a bag is only five dollars.” I in turn insisted that he keep the change. Just days ago, I paid nearly $8 for two apples at a grocery store. My principle rule is that the farmer should always receive a gratuity in addition to his asking price. The hands that picked and delivered the produce should receive the reward.
Just across the river, I made my way down familiar paths. In the late day, I felt close to the spirits of Pinchot and Olmsted, as the trees cast shadows over the laurel laced lanes. I parked the car, and changed from shoes to hiking boots for a walk around the bass pond. I marveled at the great trees, their height and rambling roots. Wildflowers sprang up embellishing meadows from the Lagoon to Deer Park. Sunflowers did nod to the setting sun. A distant mist emerged from the west bank and cast haze upon currents past timber that was once conveyed.
The summer sun kissed the forest, tipping leaves in gold flakes. A veil of honey painted streams of red over exposed branches of pine. Balmy blue spruce defined shadows’ depth and cadmium yellow struck tassels of corn in the light.
Nutmeg, clove, allspice, cinnamon and ginger are tossed with a sprinkling of sugar. Apples sliced thin are arranged in a pie pan lined with pate brisee. I cut the left-over pieces of dough in leaf formations. An evening thunderstorm rolled in and I watched the sunset, and the willow oak swayed while the pie baked.
Art is life expressed – Sarah West, owner of the Sarah West Gallery of Fine Art