Posted by: David Weimer | September 14, 2014

Chapter 19 – “Eternal Burgers”

hp photosmart 720Bacon cheddar burgers grilling on aluminum foil in their own juices.

Sitting on a blue fabric chair, the kind that folds up and goes into a carrying case, I lean back and cross my left leg over my right knee. My non-smart prepaid Tracfone has a clock that I check. I have five minutes before I flip these six burgers. The lid is down.

Smoke pours from under the edges of the grill when the grease on the foil runs through a hole or out the corner of the foil to drip onto the coals below. This smell is heaven. My ancestors from a million years ago nod silently in agreement from around their own fires.

I’m sitting on the concrete driveway at the corner of my front porch where the grill sits. It’s summer.

A full glass of inexpensive Merlot sits on top of the rusted left side, metal-lidded burner pad, next to a wire brush that I don’t use anymore since I started using this aluminum foil. I take a sip, then a second. I lean this lawn chair back on two legs and inhale deeply through my nose and let it out with an Aaaaah.

I’ve backed our Pontiac Montana van ten feet closer to the road end of the driveway so that I have more room to sit in front of the grill. I’ve dragged the grill a foot or two away from the white vinyl siding-covered lower edge of this side of our open front porch.

Two Christmases ago, I hung those big bulb colored lights up there where they’re attached to the gutter along the front of our wide front porch, as well as along the guttered narrower sides of this covered porch.

Balanced on the back chair legs, I enjoy the humid night air and the smells—especially the smells—and I look at the faded colored bulbs. Some of them, most, are showing more white light than colored because the color has worn off and flaked away and dried away in the heat and cold and sunlight over these past two years. They’re still very nice. It’s a very, very nice feeling, right here.

Mike, our large and hairy white English Labrador, with the shape of a polar bear and the heart of a sensitive kitten, lies on the concrete in front of my feet, right in front of the grill. He’s always nearest the source of food smells.

Two minutes.

Smoke is really rolling out now from the edges and holes in the closed grill that we inherited when we bought this place. The thermostat is edging upward from “med” to “med-high.” I lean forward to turn the dials on both burners down.

This is the life. You’ll never hear me say differently.

Each time here is ten minutes. Ten eternal minutes.

Thirteen or fourteen altogether this time, however, because I started these six patties frozen and there’s only one hot spot—one place on the grill that heats up really well—and I need to shift the well-cooked and lesser-cooked burgers around when I turn them, giving each their few minutes in this sunny spot. Still; ten minutes or so of eternity isn’t bad.

There’s always a couple of stretches of three or four minutes within this time where everything is perfect. A snapshot of perfection.

That’s what I like about these fleeting times—those frozen snowflake moments of smoky-punctuated perfection at the grill.

 

This:

Mike laying contentedly with head on paws and eyes closed; billowing burger smells in the humid, late-summer, darkening air; the folding chair I got for father’s day to watch Gui, my oldest, play soccer; the big colored Christmas bulbs lending their warm glow; the first planets and stars coming out; the lowering level in my glass and a fuzzy growing contentment.

 

Perfect.

Brief.

Eternal.

 

Other perfect moments at this rusting grill have witnessed Gui and his brother Ben playing football in our small front yard.

“Set—hike!”

Running, grappling, leaping over a red wagon with missing rubber on its back wheels; falling and laughing, shouting and grabbing—and then they’re past the tall bushes where I can’t see them anymore. That’s where all the exciting stuff happens of course, in front of the end zone, which is the broadside of my work van parked just beyond the cherry tree by the front corner of our house.

“Touch down!”

 

This time, though, alone, I stand and reach for the tongs and take a final gulp of warm wine before setting the empty glass by the wire brush.

My phone alarm has just sounded.

I lift the lid on the grill and revel in its sizzling heat and smoke.

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