Happy Michaelmas 2023! Have an Apple!

You have to grow tomatoes and peppers in a “polytunnel” here in Ireland. It’s too cold and windy outside. July was so cold, my homegrown tomatoes were still pretty green by mid-July. They didn’t really peak until August. And then we were buried in them. I made a whole lot of BLTs and Caprese Salads.

Autumn starts in August according to my Irish friends. Hard to fathom if you’re from Texas, but when in Rome and all that. We had a lovely May and June in Western Ireland–and a cold and rainy July. We didn’t get much sympathy from Texas, Arkansas or the European continent for the wet and chilly mid-summer. They were all contending with 100F+ heat.

Kelly and the kids traveled to Arkansas in July to bask in the worst of it. They spent some time at the lake house near Heber Springs, swimming, water skiing, and getting sunburnt. The kids each took a friend and they all had a pretty good time. I stayed home, fed the dogs, and complained about the cold and rain and made myself some Irish lobster gumbo. Not bad.

Kelly’s Birthday in mid-August found us at Sheen Falls Lodge and Spa in Kenmare. I booked her for an all day spa experience while I bobbed around in the heated pool and jacuzzi. Flowers were delivered to the room and champagne was enjoyed in the restaurant. It was great to get away.

For the last two years, our old friend from New Orleans, Pableaux Johnson has traveled to Ireland in August, just in time to wish Kelly “Happy Birthday!” And each year he has revived his famous Red Beans and Rice Road Show, guest cheffing a dinner party for a couple of dozen hungry bean eaters.

We took him on a tour of the Burren and visited a few pubs. And I made him one of this favorite dinners–Creole Daube with Spaghetti, just like they serve at Luizza’s by the Tracks. Pableaux was actually in Ireland on a research trip for an article about Irish whiskeys. We did our best to fill him in on the finer points.

The kids went back to school in September. Ava is starting 5th level–like US Junior Year.  She modeled in a fashion show during her TY (transition year) and had a speaking role in the class play–a remake of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. She was a superstar in both.

Joe is going into 3rd level and growing like a weed. Five eleven at last measure. A bit taller than his mother. He has rejoined the rugby team after a two year hiatus and continues to play for the Kinvara Hurling Team. He shed some weight and started lifting weights recently. And he can beat both his mom and dad at arm wrestling.

Our old friend Reingard Klingler from Vienna came to visit us along with another of Kelly’s oldest friends who now lives in the Brittany region of France. We had a “Big Chill” sort of weekend cooking altogether in the kitchen. One night Reingard made Vienna-style goulash with imported Hungarian paprika.

But the main ingredient in goulash is onions–lots and lots of onions. And I had to admire Reingard’s strategy for dealing with them. To keep from crying, she wore goggles and did the chopping in the outdoor kitchen. She looked a bit like an aviator out there. The goulash was lovely!

September 29th is Michaelmas, a big deal in Ireland:

Throughout the Celtic lands, Michaelmas – September 29, marked the end of the harvest. Michaelmas was one of the regular quarter-days for settling rents and accounts; often, since this was also the time of the “geese harvest”, many a farmer paid off his accounts with a brace or more of geese. Traditionally, on St. Michael’s Day, Irish families sat down to a roast goose dinner. Michaelmas also marked the end of the fishing season, the beginning of the hunting season, the traditional time to pick apples and make cider.

Sadly, nobody invited us to a roast goose dinner or paid off a debt with a fat goose. But there sure are a lot of apples around here. It seems every Irish home has a couple of apple trees out back. And they are amazingly prolific. Our own little year-old trees yielded a couple of dozen. And then the neighbors started dropping by with apples. And the women Kelly swims with every morning brought apples to the swim.

I ate a couple of apples every day for a while. But you can only eat so many apples. Son Joe is weak for apple sauce with cinnamon. So I started making big pots of apple sauce in self defense,

But it never stops. Driving down a lane the other day, I saw a wooden box full of apples with a sign that read: Take Some. Free!