It was Saturday afternoon and for the first time in a week there was nary a spot of snow in my backyard.
We had some pork loin marinating in the refrigerator and my wife was all “I was just going to cook it in the oven but if it’s nice enough out there you could barbecue.”
“Or I could try it over a fire.” I offered.
“You could.” She was skeptical. “But you’re the one who has to sit out there and tend to it.”
Despite the snow there have been a number of fire restrictions in place across the prairies.
No open fires. No fireworks. But carefully tended pits are fine… provided certain rules are followed.
Rules, such as using a fire screen cover atop your fire pit.
Caging your flames.
I cracked open a beer as the fire burned to a good base of hot coals. I’ve been working my way through a Grizzly Paw sampler pack since we visited the mountains last month and I picked up the beer right there at the microbrewery in Canmore.
This afternoon’s selection was called the Three Sisters Pale Ale, named for the triple peak mountain range that stands guard over the townsite below, down where the beer is brewed.
It was a fitting spring drink to complement the first burn of the new batch of firewood and a reward for hauling a cubic meter of logs from my driveway to the storage space behind the shed earlier this week.
Let’s also call it the small makeup drink from the alcohol-free hangover I endured on Thursday, the morning after joining club AstraZenenca and priming up my immune system against a future COVID invasion. No regrets, but that vaccine wasn’t giving free rides to many.
My caged flames burned down to a smoky bed of embers and I cautiously added a bit more wood and some charcoal to maintain the heat level.
My low-smoke firepit and the so-called clean burning cedar is belching smoke into the neighbourhood and likely annoying my neighbours.
I should really focus. Tend those wild flames and pay a little less attention to my can of cold, crisp pale ale brewed in the mountains.
I should. It’s fine though.
“The smoke smells kinda nice.” My wife says as she comes outside to check on the progress of the cook and his fire. “Better than that pine we had before.”
“I guess.” I say, but smoke is smoke even if it smells less bad than other smoke.
I would just invite the neighbours over for a beer. No one minds smoke as much with a beer in their hand. But that vaccine doesn’t really kick in for a couple more weeks and even more restrictive than the local fire rules are the pandemic ones.
The pork loin hits the hot cast iron grates and the sizzling, spicy sounds fill the backyard and for a few minutes as I turn and prod and manage the heat against raw flesh I forget. Forget it all.
The disease ravaging the world.
The cage is off, the flame unleashed, so that I can just cook.