Michelle Martin

Ordinary time

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

One of my favorite things about summer is the food.

Fresh fruits and vegetables are in season and on sale — and even better fresh from the garden — ice cream tastes even better on a hot day, and what some people think of as movie theater popcorn will always remind me of the concession stand at the public pool near my childhood home.

Maybe the best thing about summer food, though, is how much of it is cooked outdoors. Once the temperature makes it above, say, 60 degrees on a regular basis, at least a couple of dinners a week in our house come from the old Weber grill that lives in the garage during the winter.

I say this even though I don’t (or I almost never) cook on the grill. Grilling is my husband’s province, a skill he is proud of perfecting over the years, and I would never want to take that away from him.

I would maybe want to get him a new grill; the one he is using was originally a hand-me-down, and it’s lost its ash pan and at least a couple of its wooden handles, and one of the legs doesn’t have a foot. It’s a little rusty on the outside, too.

We do replace the grate every year or so.

But every time I suggest replacing the grill, he says no. This one works fine, he says, even if he has to carry it to the garbage can to empty the cold ashes. And it’s already beaten up, so other than pulling it in the garage in the winter, we don’t take any trouble to protect it from the elements. We leave it unsecured in our backyard, scarcely 3 feet from the fence that separates the yard from the sidewalk. After all, who would want to take it?

So on summer evenings when it stays light late, we fire up the grill (I have mastered starting the coals) and once the food is prepped, we pull out lawn chairs and watch the world walk by on the sidewalk outside the fence. We can have music from the radio, or a ball game. We talk, and the kids wander in and out of the house, asking questions (“When will dinner be ready?”), playing, reading.

We usually end up eating indoors, but the food tastes better when it’s cooked outside, whether hamburgers or chicken or steak.

Sometimes dinner is late on those nights, but it doesn’t matter so much once school is over for the year and there’s no homework to finish.

It’s lovely, but it gets me no closer to coming up with a Father’s Day gift for my husband.

This year, as we move into summer, I hope we all get a chance to sit back and relax, smell dinner on the grill and hear kids playing. There are holidays in the summer, of course, but less elaborate and lower pressure others, giving us all a chance to rest and recharge during the longest stretch of Ordinary Time in the year.



  • family life