Can you smell it? It’s a scent that is as fundamental to summer as a fresh swimsuit and a baseball game. It’s a scent that defines the Fourth of July and is the perfect way to heat up those cool summer nights.

It’s the smell of juicy hot dogs and burgers sizzling on an open grill.

A man standing before his grill on a breezy July afternoon might well be a captain at the helm of a ship, narrowly evading icebergs and mercenaries. It’s heroic. It’s timeless. It gives one pause from time-to-time to glance down at their worn spatula and cheesy apron and state: This is good.

Amidst a week of spreadsheets and memos, kids’ soccer practices and TV re-runs, weekends become the Alamo. The place where friends and families make their last stand. Their last chance to squeeze every ounce of joy from those humid afternoons and bug-infested yards. And during those weekends, the nucleus, the marrow, the very heart of that gathering is the grill.

This isn’t a pathos that knows any color or creed: we who follow the Way of the Charcoal Warrior even allow vegetarians to bring their terrifying soy” hot dogs” to the altar and toss those suckers on the grill. This is America and soy is, well, just fine. There should never be a day when a stereo, a cold beer, and a grilled hot dog is too much to ask for in the sweltering heat of August.

So check your propane tank or pick up some charcoal. Scrape that questionable gunk off the griddle and stock the fridge with lots of rib-eyes and Fairway Franks, and don’t skimp on the marinade, because this is America da**it! And in this blessed country we celebrate those summer months as our parents did before us: by gathering the people we love around us and firing up the grill. By taking an average afternoon and transforming it into a thousand pictures and stories that make summer the season of escape.