By the end of the season, the grind of such a large weekly event started to wear on us. But soon, we were truly missing it, and so was everyone else. We got to talking about what might have made such an eclectic group gather mid-week for no particular occasion. We came up with a few things:
First off, it gives you something to look forward to half the week and something to remember the other half. (Wednesday doesn't count because you're guaranteed to still be cloudy from Tuesday night. And I take Fridays off, which I heartily recommend, so Tuesday night is actually the middle of my week.)
Interestingly, the whole thing is out of our hands now. We stopped going out of our way to invite people, yet new faces showed up all the time. We figured that was a good sign because it implied that the interest in the event went far beyond us (we're not anywhere near interesting enough to sustain this kind of pace): the event had its own momentum besides what we put into it.
Why the momentum? The geometry of our back yard helps. Though smack-dab in the middle of a city of a quarter million, the yard is rather isolated — by an alleyway, 100-year-old trees and bushes, and the house. It's a little world unto itself. The official BBQ area is no more than a few hundred square feet, sectioned off by a low picket fence, tucked amid our various citrus trees, and adjacent to our workshop. Our rolling storage cabinet used to be our fence, which we took down and recycled at my wife's dad's suggestion. I built our legendary, green-stained picnic table as a bit of a rite of passage: it had to live up to my late father-in-law's expectations in a son-in-law. It seats 10 comfortably, 12 in a pinch, and is solid enough to park your truck on. You might say it's part of the reason that I'm married at all.
An umbrella sticks through the table and is strung with Christmas lights. It's enough to let everyone see their food, but not too much to stop you from noticing the sunset. There's a power strip into which you plug a rice cooker or crockpot — essential ingredients at a BBQ from our perspective — one must have a rice cooker and crockpot, right? The rolling storage bin has a light so you can always find extra forks and plates and cups, and we keep a few floodlights shining into the trees in the late evening to set the mood.