Friendship time machine works wonders

What better way to entertain friends than to throw a big hunk of meat on the barbecue?

There are so many different levels of friendship, but a key one is where you can be away from people for extended periods of time and pick right up where you left off when you next meet.

That was the case for us on the weekend, as friends from the City of Kawartha Lakes that we hadn’t seen for the better part of a year or more stopped by for an overnight visit. We’ve been friends for more than two decades, but really haven’t seen a lot of each other since moving to Chatham 13 years ago, crossing paths once or twice a year.

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With special friends such as Herb and K.J., when we meet, it is as if days, not months, have passed. We basically press “Play” after putting the friendship on “Pause.”

They were quite interested in our Big Green Egg barbecue, as Herb’s smoker back home spent too much time serving as a puck target on their deck for their grandkids. The result: two good young hockey players, but one dented and mangled smoker.

So as we sat in the shade on our back patio, I had a small pork shoulder on for a slow cook on the barbecue. As the afternoon progressed, we added and subtracted on that grill.

The pork stayed put, but we put on the ever-volatile ABTs – stuffed jalapenos – which we’d soaked in warm water and a little milk for about an hour after we’d cored them. They came off the barbecue after about 100 minutes, and were all flavour, with very little heat. Awesome.

Next up we put on some shrimp that had soaked overnight in one of my wife’s special concoctions, including lemon grass paste, curry paste, coconut milk and garlic. We put it all on a skillet and let it warm up beside the pork, before pulling it off and inhaling it.

The afternoon was essentially spent grazing, chatting, laughing and discussing children who grow up too fast.

As the dinner hour approached, we added a foil pack of potatoes onto the egg. It stayed on when the pork came off, which we replaced with corn on the cob.

We dined on pulled pork and corn, and were too full for the potatoes.

But before the coals – the same charcoal that had been burning since 8 a.m. – died off, we put some pineapple on to warm for dessert.

So Herb and K.J. got an excellent exposure to the versatility of our barbecue, well at least the low-and-slow cooking options. Maybe next time they visit we’ll have to do steaks.

Regardless, when we next meet, it will likely be as if time had stood still in between visits.

Such moments are true of family too. We’ve had a very busy summer, and hadn’t seen my sister-in-law and her family in well over a month. But stepping into her house, it was also like no time had passed by. We ended our week away from work with a relaxing afternoon in her backyard, lounging by the pool.

 Slow down!

We did some shopping during our time away, focusing a good part of that on getting our daughter some clothes for back to school. As she tried on outfits, I had to laugh at how particular she was becoming over her clothing options.

But then she tried on a sweater and hat combo that stopped me in my tracks. My kid was suddenly no longer a child. Looking back at me was someone who appeared way older than her years.

Uh oh. She’s growing up too fast. I’m not the first father to think that of his daughter, and I sure won’t be the last. But when such moments hit you, it’s sobering. You’re proud, protective, happy and sad all at once.

She rocked the look, and can’t wait to wear it to school. Fortunately, for me, it’s middle school. I’ve got a few years yet before she’s an adult and going off to school. Time to take a few deep breaths and cherish every moment.


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