As I write this, I am listening to plashes of rain falling on the roof and windows. It’s incessant and loud, like an extra rhythm track to the Overkill record I’m streaming on my laptop (for the inquisitive metal heads, it’s the Taking Over album). The much-portended storm has passed with nothing resembling a dire consequence befalling my neighborhood. For that, I am grateful, as I am aware of some homes in the county damaged by falling trees. It could have been much worse. The primary effect of the underwhelming storm last night and persistent rain today is to provide the symbolic proof that the 2016 grilling season has come to an end. There will be no more smoked ribs until next spring.
Saying goodbye to my backyard barbecue restaurant has been tough this year. Perching in a patio chair while apple wood smoke perfumed the air was a great escape from the troubles and woes associated with an over-thinking. I’m hoping writing serves as solace during this season of indoor cooking. The words – creative ones – have been few and far between of late, and my self-inflicted shame of being a writer who doesn’t write (much) is nagging at me. Unfortunately, shame is not a particularly good source of motivation for taking action. (You’ll forgive me if this post feels like a bit of psychotherapeutic whining).
The point of limiting grilling to the sunnier half of the year is to foster a bit of yearning. That is, I do it on purpose to ensure it’s not taken for granted. Anticipation is one of my favorite emotional states, and I’m willing to create it artificially by delaying gratification. I am not a thrill-seeker, so I do not relish rollercoasters or seek out skydiving opportunities. I am thrilled, enough, by the prospect of something I like coming soon.
For example, there are kitchen endeavors to be excited about, as it’s the time of year for stews, soups, and other slow-cooked, if not smoked, delicacies. I’m optimistic there will be a new wooden grill scraper in my stocking this Christmas (thank you, Patrons of the Pit, for the great gift idea). In the heavy metal realm, there is a new Testament album coming out, Brotherhood of the Snake, which I am excited to hear because, of course, I haven’t heard it yet. I haven’t heard it because it won’t be officially released until later this month, and to acknowledge that I’ve been listening to it for almost a week would be tantamount to an admission of music piracy, which is a crime for which I am not prepared to admit nor name others who may be complicit (it’s a great album, by the way). I’m also plotting a few endeavors for the grill next summer, such as translating my son’s perfectly delicious, and frighteningly fiery, beef bulgogi recipe to the charcoal stove. More importantly, I intend to banish the thought of Arby’s new pork belly sandwich from my mind by creating my own, superior version. I have not eaten the Arby’s rendering, but the very appearance of it on television ads makes me cringe. If they can’t make it look good on TV (see photo above), even while employing highly paid food stylists, how can it possibly taste good? This is a culinary crime that must be righted, even as music pirates go unpunished. I’m excited about all those things, and I’m hopeful that I will add regular rounds of writing to that list of things to be excited about.
Well, would you look at that: I’ve listened to a classic metal album, the sky is brightening – in true Pacific Northwest fashion – to a lighter shade of gray, and I’ve written a few hundred words. While they may not be the best words I’ve committed to the keyboard, it could be worse. At least I didn’t think about my work woes while I was writing. And, just think, I could have squandered that time by eating an Arby’s pork belly sandwich instead of writing a boring blog post, and that would truly shameful.