Saint Patrick’s Day is next Friday which means it’s time to get ready for the Emerson Irish Feast. Every year around Saint Patrick’s Day the Emerson family gathers around the table and enjoys a boiled dinner of corned beef, cabbage, potatoes, carrots, onions, and all the trimmings.

I’ve enjoyed this annual dinner for as long as I can remember. Grandpa John Connor used to come to our house when my mother prepared the corned beef dinner. ‘Pa’ would always show up in a suit but before sitting down to the table, he would remove his suit coat and tuck the big cloth napkin in his white shirt under his chin before digging into his favorite meal. He could really pack the food away.

John Connor was 100 percent Irish. He was a very successful to-bacco buyer because he could speak fluent Norwegian. Back in the early 1900s nearly all farmers in the area were Norwegian. There weren’t very many Irishmen. He was Catholic and the nearest Catholic church was in Sun Prairie, quite a ride by horse and buggy. He adjusted very well to the Norwegians — he spoke Norwegian, had two Norwegian wives, and his second favorite meal was lutefisk and lefse.

After I married Molly, she was always a guest at the Emerson Irish Dinner and she would help out my mother in the kitchen. After a few years Molly took over as the chef and her Irish boiled dinners are as good as the dinners prepared by my mother who was half Irish.

We will have about 10-12 people at the table and I am now the pa-triarch at the head of the table. I won’t be wearing a suit and white shirt like Grandpa Connor but I think I can come pretty close to eating about as much corned beef and cabbage as he used to eat.

To get in the mood, some Irish entertainment will be coming to the DeForest Library on Tuesday, March 14 at 6:30 p.m. Jeff Pockat will be playing the Irish harp and telling Irish tales in the Community Room at the Library.

I spotted my first robin of 2017 on March 1. He landed on a snowy tree branch just a few feet from my window overlooking Beaver Dam Lake in the middle of a heavy spring snowstorm. He didn’t look very happy about the snow. By the time it stopped snowing he would have had to brush away about five inches of snow to get to the frozen ground. I think his internal clock must have been out of synch due to the five or six days of warm weather we had in February.

-Emerson is the former publisher of the DeForest Times-Tribune.

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