Sunday, February 28, 2010

Winter Barbecue

There are times in a man's life when being a manly man is important. Moving a table round the garden for an outdoor party is one of them. It was heavy but we manly men managed it for the party last night.Jan keeps a busy winter garden. This winter has been wet enough his garden has gone underwater repeatedly and his plants struggle to grow in the wettest winter in memory. Jan's raised mango bushes are flowering, a source of pride for our host:Jan owns more than one lot and he has a fabulous jungle out back. Cheyenne was happy. Her host Satchmo was pretty easy going, sitting in the grass and chowing down on...oyster shells. This is his party trick every time Jan and Lucy have an oyster party. Life in the Florida Keys can sometimes be reduced to oysters and beer and a rocking chair in the back yard. Jan has one other attribute, a 1980s BMW R100RT airhead. I sometimes cross paths with Jan when I'm riding into work as he comes home from the Navy base where he has a civilian job. He bought the bike in New England in perfect running condition with the as-new bike cover. Full fairing original saddle bags and only a dead battery to deal with and it runs like a top these days. He loves to tinker.
Jan has satellite TV and the story of the day was the Chilean earthquake causing a possible "killer tsunami" in Hawaii. I haven't seen live TV since we had dinner at Jack Flats a couple of weeks ago.The weather people spent the afternoon with a hard on telling TV viewers how dangerous everything was and how huge waves could curl round and wipe out the city of Hilo and blah blah blah. I don't miss the hype. Looking out the window we had weather of our own. The cold front arrived:The rain passed and 15 minutes later the cool air was moving in. Hawaii was still in crisis because the weather morons were still trying to convince somebody "tragedy" was still possible. Chile is really in tragic shape after an 8.8 earthquake: TV renders everything weird. Here we were talking and drinking and waiting for the birthday girl while on television, in the background, millions were displaced and facing a crumbled future. As Chuck said, before instant communications we just never knew about this stuff. Carol made salad-on-a-stick, mozzarella, basil and cherry tomatoes. Instead of standing around outside we ate them indoors to avoid the (relatively) foul weather.
Cheyenne was perfectly behaved as always.
Chocolate birthday cake with cream and banana filling. I ended up stealing a piece of my wife's slice. I'm not proud of my sweet tooth.
Cheyenne's traveling dinner plate was in the trunk of her kennel.
It was a bit of scene at the house.
This is the kind of place where kids play in the street. Very old fashioned I'm sure, tossing a baseball.
Jan fired up the barbecue with sausages, sweet and regular potatoes and hamburgers. We stood around and criticized, as one does. "That one looks over done..Is that one ready yet?" Zack looks hungry.
Chuck used to work in an oyster bar in Atlanta. Steve was helping.
Darkness falls suddenly in the sub-tropics. Jan had some seafood chowder going at this point. The sausages were crisp and superb. I love sausages and mustard.
I treated this as a meat and potatoes kind of night. Barbara was keeping her distance from my tonsillitis, not the food.
Cheyenne abandoned me and hung out downstairs waiting for scraps to fall from the barbecue or the oyster shucking. Imagine. People Up North are shoveling snow from their driveways. We aren't.
The rain had blown away, the sky was clear, the temperature was dropping to around 60 American/15 Canadian, the moon was full.
I needed to go home, too much excitement for a man running a low grade fever and eating far too much. To her credit Cheyenne came when called; at home we turned up the heat as we are wussies. "I would never elect to live in cold climate" my wife mumbled as she wrapped herself in a second blanket and composed herself for sleep.