Tonight marks the Winter Solstice– the one day out of the year with the least light and the most darkness, which feels about right considering the doom and gloom of the impending holiday. While this will technically be the longest night of the year, with the sun setting sooner and sooner each day, every night lately has seemed excruciatingly long.
The little daylight we had today here in the northwest corner of the natural state was fantastic, though. It was a beautiful and balmy 64 degrees this late-December afternoon, and I could find no excuse not to fire up the ol’ Weber and satisfy my primal urge to cook meat over an open flame. My beat-up hunk-of-junk black Weber charcoal grill has been through an awful lot in its long life, surviving not only many grilling seasons but also multiple ice storms, floods, and falling tree limbs. One leg on the grill is crippled and completely fucked up, and I’m a little worried that some day it will buckle and cave in whilst in the act of cooking, dumping the kettle on its side, spilling white-hot charcoal briquettes into the pile of dried dead leaves on my patio, and potentially setting my goddamn house on fire. But I reckon I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.
behold the pinnacle of outdoor cuisine– the Weber charcoal kettle grill
I grilled enough food today to feed an entire fucking family (steaks, ribs, burgers, asparagus, peppers, mushrooms and onions), which is ultimately absurd because I was grilling only for myself since I am alone. I’m going to freeze the portions I cannot eat so that I can enjoy them several weeks down the road when I’m snowed in and unable to barbecue. If only I could do the same with sunshine… If I could bottle summer sunbeams, I could nip my seasonal affect disorder right in the bud, as Mayberry’s Deputy Barney Fife would say.
Many years ago, during a moment of domestic bliss between myself and my wife at the time, she made the remark that should we ever get divorced, the one thing she would miss the most was my grilling. I can remember this moment vividly, and it haunts me to this day. Now that she’s gone, every time I fire up the grill I think of her and miss her and understand just how alone I am. As Lydia Deets said, “I am utterly alone.”
Of course, if there’s any time to feel alone and depressed, this is it. Christmas is the quintessential time to recognize one’s loneliness. Just hear those sleigh bells jing-a-ling, ring-ting-ting-a-ling too… c’mon. It’s that special time of year when one can fully understand and appreciate just how alone he or she truly is. As for me, I might as well be Charlie Brown checking his mailbox, because I haven’t received a single goddamn Christmas card. Not a one. And I can’t say that I’m surprised. My father complained about the same thing to me over the phone the other day, but he also confessed that he should’ve expected as much since he didn’t send out any cards himself. That’s life, I guess.