Before Covid-19, I was the only one grilling on the driveway in the evenings. Now things have changed.

Weeks into the virus quarantine other driveways are grilling like we do.

I grill on the driveway on the front side of our house. I grill on a small round Weber, or a road trip-able Coleman, or on a trendy, very heavy pellet grill. I grill there because the driveway is shaded by our house and the surrounding trees. 

I live in a typical suburban neighborhood in San Antonio, Texas. To say our climate is predominantly hot is an understatement. We tend to have only two seasons, caliente and muy caliente. The sun sets on the back side our house, which makes grilling in the backyard very uncomfortable, hence grilling up front.

Chapa's first time pellet grilling on his driveway in San Antonio, Texas. (April 2020)

Lefty Ray Chapa

Chapa’s first time pellet grilling on his driveway in San Antonio, Texas.

Grilling on my driveway has its advantages. The sound system in the garage is above par and if it’s stream-able the playlist can run the gamut from the Beatles to Willie Nelson to ZZ Top. 

Also the kitchen is closer as the pantry is just inside the first door. From the backyard deck I would have negotiate around the breakfast table, the kitchen island, and a dog or two.

While smoking a piece of meat on the pellet grill, I can grab one of my fly rods from the garage and practice my casting on the street prior to an upcoming fishing trip, undisturbed, while still keeping my grill within view. I could not do this in the backyard. 

Pre-virus I was the only one grilling on the driveway in the evenings. Most people would drive straight from work into their garage and close the garage door behind them. Occasionally a neighbor might be watering their front lawn. Every now and then a kid would ride his bike down the sidewalk. Sometimes a dog that escaped from its backyard would stop, drawn by the smell of the grill and its smoke. For the most part, though, I had the driveway vista to myself. 

My fishing friends all agree that fly fishermen were the first to practice social distancing way before “social distancing” became a household phrase.

Now things have changed. Weeks into the virus quarantine other driveways are grilling like we do. Kids on bikes are everywhere. Neighbors are now out taking a walk with their dogs or kids or both. Various garage doors are open until long after sundown. Neighbors on walks keep their respectful distance, more than the social six-foot parameter. Their friendly waves from the sidewalk are repeated up and down our street as they pass each grilling driveway.

My fishing friends all agree that fly fishermen were the first to practice social distancing way before “social distancing” became a household phrase. With all of the new commotion out on the street in the evening, it is hard to cast a fly rod without tangling the fly line in the spokes of a bicycle tire or in a baby stroller. So now I sit in my lawn chair on my driveway and just watch the smoke from my grill climb into the sky, joining the other smoke from the other numerous driveway virus grillers as it meanders downwind like the streams I used to fish.

Lefty Ray Chapa is a San Antonio based outdoor photographer/writer. When not grilling he is casting a handmade fly on the nearby Texas coast.