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By Sarah West

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 lite 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 Gala 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 eight dollars 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 them 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 my shoes to hiking boots for a walk around the bass pond. I marveled at the great trees, their height and rambling roots. Wildflowers sprung 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 was once conveyed.
The summer sun kissed the forest, tipping leaves in gold flakes. A veil of honey paints streams of red over exposed branches of pine. Balmy blue spruce defines shadows depth and cadmium yellow strikes 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 rolls in and I watch the sunset, and the willow oak sway while the pie bakes.
Sarah West serves the Opelika Observer as a contributing columnist, with written works of Cultural Arts relevance and prose.
She is founder of the Sarah West Gallery of Fine Art, A Center for Cultural Arts, Smiths Station, Alabama’s premier fine arts destination. She is the appointed Official Artist to the City of Smiths Station, a Lee County syndicated columnist, the director of her art center’s Cultural Arts Outreach Initiative which partners with local schools to make the arts accessible to all. She also serves a chief curator to the City of Smiths Station, City Hall Art Galleries. She is a founding member of the Smith Station Historic Commission. She mentors art students of every age through weekly classes at her studio located in the heart of Smiths Station, Alabama. To learn more about her work and activism visit, www.thesarahwestgalleryoffineart.com.

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