Today, as I was lighting my pipe, I experienced something that I haven’t for some time: A full and wonderful realization of all that pipe smoking can be. This may be a bit difficult to explain, but please allow me to try.
As I lit the pipe, hovering a match just over the surface of the tobacco, gently drawing in and moving the match back and forth, I marveled at the sight of those individual ribbons of tobacco twisting and turning as they caught, then slowly settling and beginning to glow a beautiful orange. As I tamped the surface oh-so-lightly, I was struck by the interesting thought that all of these individual ribbons were now transforming into something else, something new. That surface, a smoldering thin cake of tobacco which allowed me to savor the taste and aroma of a favorite tobacco, inexplicably drew my thoughts back to those times as a young boy when I would watch my great-grandfather puff at his pipe, seemingly without a care in the world. It seemed like a magic trick, the puffing and tamping, the creation of slowly swirling gossamer blue-gray smoke, the indescribably comforting aroma.
I realized as I slowly drew breath, watching the tobacco of my first light gently rise and fall in the intensity of its glow, that I was performing magic, all on my own. It was a transformative moment, a collision and temporary merging of the here and now with lucid and beloved memories of days gone by. In a way, it was as if I were somehow impossibly both sharing a smoke with my great-grandfather, as well as sharing a moment with that bright-eyed young boy that was me, who was so amazed by it all. Oh, the things I wish I could share with that old man, and with that young boy!
But just as quickly as it began, time snapped back into place like quicksilver, and I was left with my pipe and my thoughts of just how much I miss both of those people, and how dearly I love them. If not for that old man, I may not even be smoking this pipe now. And without this pipe, I may not find the time to remember that boy at all. And I’m so thankful for all three--the old man, that young boy, and the pipe that gifted me with such a cherished little glimpse back through the years…
Keep ‘em lit,
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