I like a good burger as much as the next omnivore. I appreciate the atavistic appeal of cooking over an open fire, the rituals that attend certain times of year. There's something deeply satisfying about breaking out the grill for Memorial Day weekend. And I really, really like the smell of barbeque sauce.
Unfortunately, I'm also fond of breathing.
In a densely settled town such as Barrington, the act of firing up hundreds, possibly thousands, of outdoor grills does dire things to the air quality. During last year's Memorial Day weekend, a visible haze hung over the town, and the air was thick with the smell of charcoal smoke, lighter fluid, and propane.
As my son Sean observed, "It smells like cancer."
I'm not going to quote statistics and explain why charcoal grilling is unhealthy. That's like telling smokers that cigarettes aren't good for them. Why point out what everyone already knows?
Although I'd love to spend part of the weekend working in my garden, I'm resigned to the fact that this isn't going to happen. There are aspects of certain environments that are so intrinsic you can't reasonably expect to separate them.
If I was allergic to dogs, for example, I'd stay out of pet shops. If I was in the mood for pierogi and Renaissance madrigals, I wouldn't expect Chan's Egg Rolls and Jazz to accommodate me. And if I have a problem with Memorial Day air pollution, I should stay out of the suburbs. For good or ill, backyard grilling is a part of the American Dream and it's not going away any time soon.
So. Have a good weekend. I'll see you once the charcoal dust settles.