December 2012

Apple of my eye

By Jude Schuenemeyer

Cecilia baked an apple pie on Thanksgiving. Her first pie, mostly all by herself. I peeled and cored the apples, but Cecilia baked the pie.

She added the butter to the Red Rose flour with me putting the chopped butter fragments back into the freezer in their stainless- steel bowl so that a mixture resembling white peas could be obtained without too much handling. She set the dough to chill and then rolled it out and pressed it into the pie pan. She filled it with the apple mixture that she had simmering in the cast-iron pan upon our stove, laid the top crust on the pie and then pinched the pieces together.

Armed with the Apple Lovers Cookbook, and resistant to her mother’s skepticism, Cecilia baked her pie perfectly before our family arrived on our farm that day.

There were at least 12 different varieties of apples in that pie, from three different orchards across Montezuma County. Each of those apples came from trees that were over a hundred years old. They were apples that we had collected this fall in preparation for the Orchard Social that we had at the Cortez Cultural Center in October.

Though we know the names of a couple of the apples, most of them are still a mystery. They were given to us by people that have lovingly kept old apple trees living in spite of a lack of market to justify their devotion. Belief is a strange mortar, especially as it connects people, plants, and place.

Then again, if you have ever tasted one of these apples, you too would believe in the rightness of letting these trees live another year, the expectant promise of another harvest to come.

Through the trees I have gotten to know some most exceptional people. Whether they were from pioneering families, or moved here because of a love of place, there is a respectful kindness, an acceptance without condescending judgments, an honest desire to see their neighbors well that permeates this place.

After an election in which obscene amounts of money were spent to divide us, I am grateful to live in a community that values people more than status or opinion.

In being in these orchards I have learned the generosity of respect, the patience of acceptance, the blossoms and decline of a willing participation in a living world.

So in between this season of thanks and this season of giving, I give thanks to all for allowing us to be here in these orchards, at this time; for the successes and the mistakes that living entails, and for the belief in the harvest to come.

And especially, for Cecilia’s wonderful apple pie. I think that you can still find a picture of it on Facebook, but, oh, the taste was so good.

Jude Schueneyemeyer is co-owner of Let It Grow Nursery and Café in Cortez, Colo.