I shift the heavy bag from one arm to the other on the way home from the grocery store. There’s a late night barbecue spilling out into the sidewalk up ahead. It’s a quiet scene as it turns out. The full-size grill is on the sidewalk right in front of the path. Someone is turning a cut of meat over with a spatula. There are three or four people relaxing on the steps leading up to the most graffitied house on the block. I nod hello to nobody as I trespass through the barbecue, where the chilled spring air is mixed with charcoal smoke.
When I’d seen them up ahead, I had prepared myself for something less sedate – maybe a broken beer bottle on the sidewalk or a jeering comment thrown in my direction. But last night was a perfect evening for a tentative first barbecue of the year. They were doing the most sensible thing – sitting outside in their dark side street, setting up the barbecue on the most convenient plot of level ground, pointing at the sky and pointing out the Big Dipper as “The Great Dipper“.