Visitors – and Apple Crisp

Early each morning, rain or clear, dark or daylight, my good-natured and responsible husband checks the perimeter of Frances’s courtyard. An eight-foot fence keeps deer out and Frances in, but we always worry that another critter might invade during the night. Hence the perimeter check.

Flashlight in hand, our early patroller (Frances waits by the door, and I am still abed) lights up far corners and fence tops – usually revealing quiet woods and empty garden.

The other morning, so I’m told, raccoons attempted a courtyard incursion. The flashlight revealed two raccoons walking the top of the fence where the netting leans inward, while another slithered down the outside of a fence post. They sauntered slowly away, lit by the flashlight, with many backward glances. By a stretch of raccoon imagination, the courtyard might resemble a large open-air chicken coop.

No chickens here, and the only food left is on a very prolific columnar apple. Of the two I planted (here), one has produced nothing, but the other, in a barrel, has clusters of apples.

Last weekend (predicted to be rainy), I used some of the apples to make an apple-rhubarb crisp to greet a more welcome guest (a summer visit finally accomplished at the onset of fall).

I glanced at Deborah’s crisp recipe while in the middle of a long overdue, catch-up telephone conversation with my friend who paints in the woods, but mostly just cut apples till the little baking dish was nearly full. I didn’t peel, just cored and chopped, added some frozen chopped rhubarb, drizzled honey, and sprinkled cinnamon and a pinch of cloves over the fruit.

Luckily crisp forgives distractedness. For the topping I mixed flour, oatmeal, maple syrup, a tiny bit of salt, some cinnamon and nutmeg, and pecans roughly chopped. (This seems less a recipe than a reminder, but more apples here.)

Crisp bubbles up in the oven, so it’s good to place it on a baking sheet to prevent spills and cover with foil for the first part of an hour’s baking at 350°. I neglected both of those, but it still made for a cheerful evening by the fire. (My friend who paints in the woods makes it instead of birthday cake – celebratory crisp.)

I’ve picked the rest of the apples now – no more dangling fruits to tempt masked intruders – just apples for crisp on a cold evening!

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