By Nathan Smith

Can you smell that? It’s the unmistakable aroma of the 2012 grilling season. With another Memorial Day in the books, the summer is off to a running start with the return of hot temperatures and cookouts. Grills across the country are being cleaned, charcoal and wood stocked and refrigerators filled in preparation for the season.

Summer time reminds me of time spent with grandparents in backyards with sprinklers running and meat smoking.

My grandpa especially loved his station at the grill. As a veteran, his patriotism was almost matched by his love of good food, as his round belly proved.

He lived through tough times as a child when good meat was a weekly treat. Back then, high-quality beef, chicken and pork were hard to come by. Now, I drive four blocks to a super-sized grocery store.

Summer weekends at his house was a time for more meat. His smile would light up the evenings in the backyard as he recruited grandkids to sit on the ice cream bucket and turn the crank.

He took pride in his modified barbecue grill that delivered hot dogs and burgers for a passel of children. Steaks and chicken sizzled for the adults and everyone ate watermelon and homemade vanilla ice cream for dessert.

Webster’s defines “foodie” as a person with an avid interest in food or devoted to the sampling of good food and drink. I suppose Grandpa was the first real “foodie” in my life.

Although he’s been gone for years, his deep love for America and the joy brought through family and food are still alive.

This weekend, as I lay the steaks on the grill with my grandpa’s old tongs, I’ll think of him and the farmers and ranchers I know who got the steak from their gate to my plate.

Have a favorite summer cookout memory? Please share it with us!