Enjoying the Small Things

By Chad Butnari

May 4, 2022

The weather is finally starting to turn. For those of us that don’t love the cold weather (I find that I enjoy winter just a little less every year that goes by), April is an exciting time. It’s typically the first glimpse of Spring after the long Winter. Although the few days of nice weather usually don’t stay, it allows us to start planning. Most people start planning their gardens, putting away their snow shovels and begin dusting off their outdoor furniture (although it might be a tad early to put it out :).

What excites me most about Spring is barbequing. I would consider myself a bit of a barbeque enthusiast. One of the things I really enjoy doing in my spare time is cooking and I feel barbequing is simply an extension of that. Like many people, I grew up with a typical gas and propane barbecue. I wouldn’t call either of my parents “foodies” so it was usually about how quickly a piece of meat could be cooked. And yes, it was usually overcooked by a wide margin.

When I got married in 2014, I wanted to buy a nice barbeque. Even though I didn’t own a house yet, I figured it would be a good investment. Naturally, I started my research. After many hours of google searches, YouTube videos, and talking with friends and family, I stumbled across kamado grills – specifically the Big Green Egg. Although it only ran on charcoal, the reviews sucked me in.

Users described the amazing lump charcoal flavour, the archaic but satisfying manual controls, and the flexibility. I decided to give it a go.

8 years later, I’m still cooking, smoking, grilling, and baking on that Big Green Egg.  It’s one of my favourite things to do when the weather gets nice. Now, I should mention it is perfectly safe to use in the Winter as well but a charcoal-fuelled, manual grill keeps you outside watching and tinkering a bit longer than I’d like in -20 degree weather.

This year, I began reflecting on what I enjoy most about barbequing. Why do I spend the time? After all, it’s simply a way to cook dinner. Well, to me, it’s more than that.

I love the time-consuming process, the smell of the charcoal, the creativity and experimentation, and the lessons learned from the process.

I often think, “how can I make this better next time?” Barbequing this way ignites a primal feeling in me. It’s just food and fire, what’s better than that?

As much as I love this feeling, there is definitely something deeper for me. What I love most is spending the time cooking for my family (although I must admit it hurts when my kids choose chicken nuggets over my BBQ brisket). You see, I’m rarely alone when I’m barbecuing. My kids are often out there with me. My son Leo takes a particular interest. He has a million questions like most 3-year-olds,

“Daddy, how do you turn that on?” “What are you making?” “Is it hot?” “Can I look inside?” “Can I come and watch?”

I realized it’s this part of the experience I enjoy the most. It’s a bonding experience for me and my kids. It’s something we can do together while being outside, with a cold beer (or juice) in hand, enjoying the moment.

One lesson I learned from two years of a pandemic is that you don’t always need to go places and spend money to have a good time. As much as I do enjoy travelling, sometimes it’s the simple things that give us the most joy. I’ve read, that one key to being happier in life is living in the moment and enjoying the small things. As I get older the more true I find this adage becomes. So, here’s to the Spring and enjoying whatever activities that bring you closer to your loved ones and you enjoy the most.