In Which Years of Being Prepared Pays Off

I like to be prepared. It pays off often enough for me to keep doing it. Today, the plan was for Flynn and Jasper and me to go to the lake. It was a glorious sunny and windy day.

Yesterday, Flynn and I bought a few supplies and planned to grill hamburgers once we got to the lake. Today, as we were loading the car, we realized we didn’t have charcoal, so I knew we needed to stop for charcoal on the way. There was only one problem. When we were well on our way, I checked to make sure Jasper had loaded the grill into the trunk–only to find out he hadn’t. I still don’t understand why he got it out, let me clean it up, and then didn’t put it in the car!

So anyway, I hedged my bet by telling the boys to get charcoal and a backup sub sandwich while I put gas in the car. I was really hoping I could still pull off grilling hamburgers.

It was a fine, fine day to be driving through the luminous spring countryside toward the lake, and listening to Boney M on the car stereo.

If you’ve read my ebook, Are We There Yet?, you know that I always have in my trunk a box containing emergency picnic supplies. For many years now, that box has contained a tiny portable grill known as “Grilliput.” I admit, I got it because the design was so clever and I just couldn’t resist. Until today, I never had any reason to use it, yet I stubbornly kept it in the car because you just never know.

Well, as I’m sure you guessed, today was my moment of triumph. When we got to the lake, it was very windy so I built a little charcoal fire on the concrete between the picnic table and the outer wall:


We blocked off the wind as well as we could with various items we had brought. Meanwhile, Jasper helped me assemble the Grilliput. I had only done it once, several years ago, so it took a few minutes to figure out the instructions and get it properly set up. As I said, it is a very clever design, and all made of stainless steel. Once I had a nice bed of coals, I set the little grill down over them.


The hamburger patties were still semi-frozen, so I sent the boys on a hike because I knew it would take a while for them to cook through. The one drawback of a grill like this is that you have no control over how far the grill is above the coals.


But you know what? The burgers did cook through and were just about perfect. I texted Flynn when they were almost done and by the time he and Jasper returned, everything was ready. We had a very nice lunch and afterward the boys roasted marshmallows over the coals.

The Grilliput was perfect for what I needed it for–cooking a few burgers. (I don’t think it could handle more than four.) This is not the kind of thing that you could set down over a blazing wood fire and set a cast iron dutch oven on. It’s not made for that kind of heavy use. For grilling a few pieces of meat, though, it works very well and I may just try using it again even if I don’t have to!

After lunch the boys went on another walk and I did something I haven’t done in a long, long time. It was so cold in the shade, unless I was hovering over the coals, so I pulled my chair out into the sunshine and let myself sit in full sun with the sun shining down on my face for 20 minutes. I know I might be sick tomorrow, but at that point I didn’t care. It has been so long since I could just let the sun shine on me and not worry about getting sick. It felt wonderful. If I get sick, I’ll remind myself how good it felt to sit in the sun beside the lake, just this once.

We stayed at the lake until 3:00 and watched with dismay as bulldozers pushed over several of the tall pine trees for which the lake is famous. I’m not sure why they are cutting down so many trees. The name of the lake is actually “Lake O’ the Pines.” Flynn says if they don’t stop soon, we will have to call it “Lake O’ the Awkward Silence.”

We drove home through the brilliant afternoon sunshine. Did I mention it was a very beautiful day? I’m glad we had a day like this while Flynn is here.


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