A prophet in the orchard crying for the return of such sweet temptations as the Northern Spy, the Spitzenberg, the Rhode Island Greening. . .Lape's paean to the apple condemns the dwindling variety and the deteriorating quality of those that remain. Along the way we learn much: that John Endicott brought the first edible apple to the U.S., that the McIntosh is grown in Nepal, that the apple is Tasmania's number one fruit, and that the Red Astrakhan makes the best jelly and marmalade. He decries the impact of modern marketing and agriculture, which have given us the perfidious Red Delicious (""O Beautiful Red Sawdust"") and the ""Chemical Nightmare"" resulting from the cavalier use of herb- and pesticides On his nearly bygone favorites Lape is rhapsodic: ""To bite into the flesh of a well-ripened Spy and have the juices ooze around the teeth and its rich tart flavor fill the mouth and its aroma rise up and fill the nostrils. . ."" Of the Spitzenberg: ""Its flesh is tinged with yellow and is firm, tender, and aromatic. . ."" We permit him his longish divagations into chemical treatments and the finer points of pruning and crab-apple varieties, for the 79 year old horticulturist (director of the George Landis Arboretum in upstate New York) is a man with a mission. Something for everyone--including growing and grafting your own in the backyard.