Where to start? Maybe with Thursday night's concert?
Mick Moloney and Athena Tergis entertained Roads Scholars with songs and tunes in the Irish tradition. The concert was open to the public so we were able to have a listen to these fine performers. We left with our friend from Toronto, Catherine Crowe, for a late dinner at a Mexican restaurant and some good conversation.
Friday found us heading to Tygart Lake State Park to tell ghost stories for the haunted trail. The moon was full, the air was crisp, the audience delightful and the tales, I hope, sufficiently spooky. I debuted several new stories including the Holland Handkerchief as both story and ballad, the Cale Betts Ghost, Coffin Hollow and a couple others along with some of my most requested ghost stories. Writing friend Diane Tarantini came with her children for the storytelling and we went out with her later to the Grafton 1-2-3 for another late dinner and also got to chat with the owner of this quality little coffee shop, our friend MK Stover.
Saturday morning we were up and out, heading home to prepare for an evening ghost stories concert at the Alpine theatre in Ripley,
with Keith Maynard and Suzi Whaples,
to be followed with a very late night get-together around the firepit at our house with Catherine, Derek and his family, and friends. We sang, talked and laughed until 3:00am (how did it get so late so fast?). Jeff sang a song called Canned Goods by Greg Brown that was a perfect description of our way of life. This morning we were up by 10 so we could get started on making apple butter.
It was a good day for this project--warm, no threat of rain like in 2008 and no snow like in 2007, and lots of help from Derek and Amy. Some friends met here on this blog stopped by to look at the land we have for sale and we had a good visit with them while we filled the copper kettle with apple sauce I'd cooked and canned in September, got the wood fire lit under the kettle and got cooking. I sometimes can the sauce in advance because I don't have a clear weekend to make the sauce and immediately cook it down when the apples need to be picked and worked up. So rather than lose the apples I can the sauce and save the apple butter making for a good day. This year I also froze some of the applesauce which saved jar lids and a lot of time, but we ran out of room in the freezer so I had to can most of it. They stayed long enough to help start the stirring, and left just as Derek and Amy arrived.
I was worried about this year's apple butter because I had no access to red apples this year, and I had always been told that you need red apples to get the rich brown color in the apple butter. I had only my yellow apples this year; would they make good apple butter? Well, as you can see in the photo (which doesn't show the entire yield) the color is lovely; the taste? it's fine. Whew.
It takes about 60 quarts of applesauce to fill my kettle, and it cooks down to about 30 quarts of apple butter. We ended up with 31 quarts this year. When it was in the jars Derek made his BIG biscuits and we got to taste the fresh, spicy apple butter at the time when I think it's best--right off the fire.
That was the weekend, in a nutshell. Much driving, much storytelling, many friends, good work, and very, very, very tired tonight. But a good tired, and ready to sleep like a baby and be ready for tomorrow's back-to-work morning.