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Apple Crisp Then and Now

apples in an orchardWhen I made apple crisp last week, I thought I knew the recipe by heart so I didn’t bother to check it, and while what came out of the oven was good, it wasn’t wildly good the way apple crisp ought to be.

For me, October is a messy month of birthdays for loved ones who have died—my father and both parents-in-law. Instead of celebrating with phone calls and cakes, those of us left behind send wistful texts and remember. Tastes of cinnamon and slippery-hot apple slices are portals to before, when my mother-in-law first shared her apple crisp recipe with me and I marveled at just how much butter was actually involved. I wear for a nighty the big, yellow shirt my dad gave out when we all took a bike ride to Minnehaha for his 70th birthday, now 18 years ago. How it rained that day, and how he relished the company.

On the lighter side, October means apples and pumpkins and kids ramping up about costumes and swordplay. I made a new friend this week. How special is that? And I haven’t even mentioned the glory of the leaves here in New England.

My point is this: memory is sweet and poignant in October. Our ghosts exist side-by-side with the present, percolating up unexpectedly to claim us and to exhort us to live fully. The sunlight casts a graveyard slant over the still-green lawns and ashy hydrangeas, a mix of summer and winter, of past and future, pivoting on now.

Grama Dawn’s Apple Crisp

  1. Peel and slice 8 Granny Smith apples.
  2. Mix together
    1 tsp cinnamon
    ½ cup sugar
    and sprinkle onto the apples. Put them in a pie pan.
  1. Combine
    1 cup flour
    1 stick butter
    1 cup sugar
    into a topping and pile it in a huge mountain onto the apples.
  1. Bake at 350°F for an hour.

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