Grilling Paradise: How To Be There When You’re Not
How we love to tarry in the prettier places. Often times striking off for the pristine hinter regions of northern Minnesota. And there, under the whispering pines, beside tumbling rivers, we press a tent stake into the soil, and rest like gentlemen of leisure. The cares of the city life metaphorically swirling down the drain, like dirty bath water after a long day afield. Soon, we think of nothing else, nothing but the wind, the sky, the woods, and the loveliness of water falling in paradise.
The river flows with a fierce elegance up here. She will dazzle you with her beauty, and in the flip of a heart beat, wash you into one of her deep pools, and pin you there but for the wages of eternity. Kayakers know this. And so do Patrons of the Pit, who cower wisely on the shores. Nay, these waters are best left to the native brook trout which loiter in the eddies, awaiting the wayward drift of a Rhithrogena germanica or the like.You know how it goes. Anyways, whence the night falls over the forest primeval, we do rather like to kindle a fire and bandy close to its coals.
An old, blackened tea-pot with a dented, and beaten-up lid, hangs hobo style over the fire, bringing the evening’s water to a boil. I rummage through my pack for my twenty year old steel mug, whilst the flicker of the flames dance softly over head on the bottom of the pine bows. Found it. I rip open a package of cinnamon tea, and plop the bag into my cup, it’s string hanging limply over the lip. I look up. The stars are out now, shimmering behind the tall pines, dappling through the thin needles. The river tumbles in the darkness. And I can smell the smoke waft off the fire, and taper into the pine-scented woods. Can you smell it!
Via the powers of the blogosphere, you have now been transported. Swept away through space and time, and plunked down in a saintly fashion at the Track Side Pit, where our fellow Patron is plying his craft upon a congregation of yard bird legs. Chicken legs for you city folk. He’s got a nice char going on, as you can see, with flirts of caramelization. Seasoned with who knows what, but it’s good! The aromas bellowing off the grill would turn a vegan silly, I’d wager. And can you smell the smoke…
Smoke. The smell of it. For some reason God has linked smells inextricably with memory. And that’s the curious link between here and there. Between cooking on the patio in the city, and cooking over the open fire, far away, encamped in a quiet, forest hollow. We’ve mentioned it before, but we’ll say it again. Because every time we light the fires here at home, the aroma of the smoke in-turn triggers a rush of memories from camp fires past. And a great many of those fires have been in the wilder places, in paradise, doing what we love to do. And as we rotate these gorgeous chicken legs over a fiery bed of coals, with metal tongs in hand, we cannot help but to reminisce at the same time of the beautiful locales from whence we’ve tarried. Oh yes. To reach back on the tender wings of nostalgia, and thumb through our memory vaults to those campsites past, fire-side, under fragrant pines and starry skies, where the water falls in paradise. Amen.
June 18, 2016 at 10:05 am
June 18, 2016 at 10:43 am
“the powers of the blogosphere” … love it, I’s stealing that phrase! 😉
June 18, 2016 at 11:01 am
Help yourself. As a long time reader, you’re allowed to steal what ever you want ! Aloha Auntiedoni !
June 18, 2016 at 11:27 am
I can almost smell it, OMG those chicken legs look so good. I’ll admit I have never been camping, unless a cabin in the woods counts, your description is so vivid it almost makes me want to give it a try. As for the grilling I’ll take that anytime at all.
June 18, 2016 at 1:19 pm
Well a cabin in the woods doesn’t sound too shabby. I’d take that. I dunno, there’s just something about being surrounded by the wilderness that has always appealed to me. I crave it. Likewise with good grilling, you’re right!
Good to hear from you, Susanne!
June 18, 2016 at 3:51 pm
It’s been many a year since I’ve done any true camping. Thanks for the memories. Another well written post. You’re photos are always wonderful. While I love the picture of the falls (above), I’m specifically complimenting your pit-side pics. I’ve struggled to capture the glory of my grilled goodies. I need a few lessons from you. Cheers.
June 18, 2016 at 4:22 pm
I wish I could offer you some photography tips, but the truth is I don’t know what I’m doing, and most of it is dumb luck! I just shoot a lot of photos and hope maybe one turns out. A little pixel time in Adobe Lightroom never hurts either.
Yes, you need to do the wild thing again , Todd. Wipe your butt with a pine cone and howl at the moon. Then again…Maybe not.
June 18, 2016 at 4:30 pm
Ok, that’s it…I can’t take it anymore! After months of savoring the prime pages of POTP poetry, I have finally succumbed. Your artful way with words and photography is much to powerful and infectious to resist! Me, being one of those gassy city folk, fell prey to the instant gratification of putting meat to mere gas flame all these years. Now enlightened, and life too short, I realize this can no longer do. So I ordered me a fine Weber 22″ charcoal kettle today. Thank you for sharing your poetic stories of the smokey outdoor good life which always leave me feeling so relaxed and smiling, and for helping me confess to myself how much I do miss the BBQ and campfires of every single camping trip, and how the lingering smokey scent on our clothes once home beckons us to head outdoors again real soon. POTP is the best blog in my book!
June 18, 2016 at 4:58 pm
Thank you kindly! Wow, thanks for the nice comments. Where the heck have you been? Lurking in the smokey shadows I suspect. Anyways, we are tickled you chimed in with your thoughts and let us be the first to congratulate you on your new Weber Kettle grill. You’ve taken a good step into a better tasting meat. Them Webers are good bangs for the buck, and will last you many years. Congrats former gassy person. Congrats indeed.
June 18, 2016 at 6:42 pm
Thanks for the congrats on my forthcoming Weber! Yes, you are in fact the first to come forth with good grilling wishes, as my Wife (as supportive as she is, bless her kind heart) can only shake her head and wonder why all the fuss over a big ol’ metal kettle.
I must admit I feel like a kid before Christmas, eagerly awaiting for the big day to arrive, except this time Santa is coming to town in a big brown van wearing a brown outfit.
I look forward to putting my gassy days behind, and to many a Sunday of slow BBQ leisure…inspired by the good people of POTP of course.
June 19, 2016 at 12:22 am
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You transport us well. I’m there, tea and all. My memories wander so far they truly get lost in in the rhythm and flavors of the wilderness. Sacred times.
June 18, 2016 at 8:07 pm
Thanks Gary. Yes, you and me both. Glad you enjoyed the essay. Mine heart pines always for the wild places.
June 18, 2016 at 9:08 pm