I live and write on Lingít Aaní, and gratefully acknowledge the past, present and future caretakers of this beautiful place, the Jilkaat Kwaan and Jilkoot Kwaan.

When I got home from Tenakee, I craved fresh greens and salmon – of course there are plenty of both there, but I was isolated in a cabin with Covid and canned pantry peaches and peanut butter sandwiches for a week. Chip is a great griller, so he cooks the fish in our house. His grill is on the porch by the beach door and it is old. Very old, as gas grills go it must be almost vintage. We have had it since our second daughter was born, and she is 38. Also, it’s not exactly in cream puff shape. Parts of it– the ash tray and grease trap- really are held in place with bailing wire. I think one of the legs is, too. And there is a lot of rust. You can poke a finger through it.

I know– I have tried to replace it for a decade. I mean– we own a lumberyard and hardware store. When I commented how nice my daughter’s grill was and asked she where she bought it, she said Lutak Lumber.

Anyway– making a long story short-ish: It was pretty windy, blowing 20 from the south, meaning right into the shingle wall of the porch, and we were inside, timing the fish– when all of sudden flames shot out of the old grill–  the top- the sides– the bottom– holes were all illuminated. Chip yelled “water” and ran out with a pitcher and tossed it. I grabbed the baking soda hollering, “never pour water on a grease fire!” (I know this from the Safety Report on KHNS) and let a cloud loose.  Hissing smoke, crackling rust.  Well, it went out and didn’t catch the house on fire, but just to be sure Chip shut off the propane tank and dragged the grill into the yard.

“Now can we get a new grill?”

“The fish is cooked perfectly.”

“It almost burned the house down.”

“You’re exaggerating.”

This attachment to the old grill is becoming pathological, I said– and noted– that there is a new one, in the box, in the garage that was meant for the Tenakee cabin but didn’t fit on the last ferry load. “You can have mine.”

He said no thank you.

The next night we had salmon again. The kids were over for dinner and Chip asked when he should start the grill. “We aren’t using it anymore,” I said. “The fish is in the oven.”

There is more than one way to skin a cat.

A few days later, I came home and Chip was putting the new grill together. He asked me to help lift the old one into the truck.

The new grill really is pretty. So clean and solid. And Chip trusted it enough to cook deer backstrap on the first try, and it came out perfectly. As good as the old grill.

I feel a little bad about forcing the issue, but worse about tossing the old grill into the dump. Maybe we should have had a proper ceremony in honor of so many memorable meals, life events– birthdays, weddings, holidays and cookouts. So many people we have loved have enjoyed meals from that grill- some are no longer here-like my parents and Chip’s dad. Uncle Dick and neighbor Betty– our friend Aaron- I can’t keep counting. It’s too hard. Do we lose a piece of them with it?

Chip is right– It truly was a good old grill. I also love my husband more because he prefers old stuff to new, and makes everything last longer than it should. Have I mentioned that our refrigerator is the same age as the grill? Actually, it’s older now, and still chillin’. I used to think we should get a new one. Now, I hope it lasts forever.