The leaves are just beginning to change into their autumn best here in southeastern Ohio. We’ve been enjoying temperatures in the low to mid 70’s with plenty of sunshine. Evenings and nights are falling into the 50’s and 40’s. There’s a crispness in the air that only autumn embraces correctly. It’s the perfect time for roasting hot dogs over an open fire!
I have always loved a good old fashioned weenie roast! Memories of childhood and my dad going to the woods to find the perfect roasting sticks. He would sharpen the ends just enough so the wiener would glide on smoothly. It had to be a special wood; not any stick would do, and I wish I had paid more attention to what he chose. But they worked wonderfully! Nothing fancy. A couple bales of straw to sit on, or lawn chairs. My brothers and I would hold our hot dogs over the open fire and watch carefully as they cooked to a darkened brown. Unless we caught one on fire, then someone was going to be eating a burned hot dog, but no one cared.
Home canned ketchup and mustard were the only add ons to our dog and bun. Sometimes, we didn’t even have a bun and used a slice of mom’s homemade bread to wrap around it. No matter what kind of bread, I was sure they were the best hot dogs I had ever eaten. Mostly, because family was gathered together and sometimes there would be a little laughter, especially if some poor hot dog fell off its stick and became a burnt offering in the ashes.
Drinks were usually Kool-Aid and apple cider. I didn’t like the cider but I loved the idea of it gracing a weenie roast. Dessert was S’mores. Oh my gosh, what gooey wonderfulness of hot roasted marshmallows on melting chocolate between two graham crackers! I had never tasted anything more decadent!
The smell of wood smoke is filling my neighborhood this evening, stirring up memories of weenies, flannel shirts and corduroys, and the sound of laughter around an open fire. The smells of autumn; changing leaves and ripening field corn, final cuts of hay in the hay mow. The sounds of night in the country, field mice scurrying through corn husks, barn owls hooting, cattle settling in the field for the night, and the occasional bat swooping around the barn.
It was simpler times when I was too young to worry about paying bills and keeping gas in a car. There was one black rotary phone in the house, and one black and white TV that got three channels. Our family had meals together and worked hard in between. There was no time to get into trouble. And it was good.
The picture above was taken at our church weenie roast last year. It’s a celebration of autumn and pastor appreciation week where church family gathers together, laughter happens, and great food is shared. I think it’s becoming a tradition, and that’s a wonderful thing.