Despite the inconvenience of the corona virus, it's such a lovely morning to celebrate all things Irish. I've not a tobacco more appropriate in my cellar than Old Dublin, and will shortly seek its pleasure. There's no chance of snow here in the Sunshine State with temperatures predicted to reach 85 degrees Fahrenheit this afternoon, and yet I still find the following poem quite fitting and beautiful to start a new day.
Dust of Snow
The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree
Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.
As stated in my second post here, I enjoy old pipe and tobacco advertisements whether that be in print form or those wonderful old television commercials. I'll not beat a dead horse and bewail government over-reach, nor will I bemoan the myriad of stupid reasons for the removal of tobacco related advertisements from the various media outlets - I'll simply leave you with a commercial from a by-gone era for your enjoyment.
With Christmas fast approaching, the upcoming days will be busier than ever with parties, church services, The Nutcracker Ballet, and final shopping days. I at least wanted to get in one post for the month of December. Wow, where did the month go? Anyway, I've noticed a trend over the years concerning Jolly Old St. Nick. One used to see pictures and posters of the old gentleman everywhere. Not so any more, and the few images I do see are strangely different from those I remember as a kid. I suppose modernity and rampant political correctness have even taken over The North Pole. The nanny state with its snowflake citizenry have indeed revised history. Most of the renditions of Santa I've seen now fail to show him with a pipe. It doesn't surprise me really, I'm sure it's just a matter of time before some pro/anti-something-or-other author re-writes "The Night Before Christmas" to remove the stump of a pipe clenched tight in his teeth. I leave with you the full text of the poem, 'Twas The Night Before Christmas'.
Until next time - Merry Christmas!
'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse; The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds, While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads; And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap, Had just settled down for a long winter's nap,
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter. Away to the window I flew like a flash, Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below, When, what to my wondering eyes should appear, But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick, I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick. More rapid than eagles his coursers they came, And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;
"Now, DASHER! now, DANCER! now, PRANCER and VIXEN! On, COMET! on CUPID! on, DONNER and BLITZEN! To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall! Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly, When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky, So up to the house-top the coursers they flew, With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof The prancing and pawing of each little hoof. As I drew in my hand, and was turning around, Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot, And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot; A bundle of toys he had flung on his back, And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.
His eyes -- how they twinkled! his dimples how merry! His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry! His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow, And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth, And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath; He had a broad face and a little round belly, That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf, And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself; A wink of his eye and a twist of his head, Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work, And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk, And laying his finger aside of his nose, And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle, And away they all flew like the down of a thistle. But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight, HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO ALL, AND TO ALL A GOOD-NIGHT!
It's late November here on the peninsula. Winter is ever so slowly creeping up on us in its inconstant manner. Tonight I had to put on a windbreaker as I felt a chilly breeze coming off the Gulf. The air possess an invigorating sparkle; crisp and magical. You can feel it, taste it, like the first bite into a cool juicy Florida orange, and it's delicious.
This time of year seems to bring greater pleasure to pipe smoking. The stifling heat gives way to cool dry air. I tend to smoke Latakia mixtures more freely, and each draw on my pipe elicits more flavor and aroma from the sun-cured Cyprian varietal.
Sitting here smoking and contemplating as we pipers are wont to do, I cannot help but recall a time when I regularly shared the company of other pipe-men. There were those I worked with, those at the tobacco shop, those at the barber shop, and those men in my own neighborhood. We'd talk about the 'Good Old' days, borrow each others tools, and languish over the price of gasoline. . . and we would smoke together. We merry band of pipe-men weren't necessarily all-the-rage or avant-garde, but neither were we debilitated, defenseless, and demonized. I am grateful and thankful for all of the blessings I'm bestowed, but still I wish I actually had another pipe smoking friend to share in this bounteous season, to smoke our pipes over some good conversation and pumpkin pie. The truth is, I don't know a single person that smokes a pipe anymore; heck, I very rarely even see another pipe smoker out and about. The nearest brick and mortar shop is an hour away, and they mostly cater to the yuppie cigar and hookah crowd. Oh sure, I can find fantastic brothers of the briar online, and I am indebted, but none here in the flesh. Time, taxes, texting, and the nanny state have all conspired to eradicate and crush a wonderful, time honored tradition. Often I feel like the black sheep or the Lone Ranger. My son actually referred to me the other night as an old-fashioned dinosaur, a term of endearment I'm sure! Happy Thanksgiving to all.
~ Until next time
Original Photo:Quiet Comrade Pipe • Czech Tool • Old Dublin Tobacco
I watched game 1 of the World Series last night. The Washington Nationals defeated the Houston Astros 5-4. In case you're wondering, I'm a big baseball fan and truly love the game. As a very young lad I used to avoid sleep and my dear Mother's wrath by pulling the covers up over my head while listening to games on my old transistor radio. I too played competitively until I finished high school, and two of my children seem to love the game as much as their Dad.
I like baseball for several reasons. The beginning of the season signifies springtime; the end of winter grays and the heralding of bright optimism. You start with a clean slate on opening day, forgetting last year's failures and looking ahead with new anticipation. Baseball is timeless, the clock doesn't run out and both teams get their 27 outs no matter the score. Baseball is about statistics, stories, and trivia. It lends itself to great conversations - and of course baseball is about the players and the plays.
As the Major League season winds to a close, I as a pipe smoker cannot help but recall with great affection the famous skipper of the Cincinnati Reds and the Detroit Tigers, Sparky Anderson. In the early 90's while working for AT&T, I had the pleasure of meeting him several times when the Tigers
were in Florida for Spring Training. AT&T managed the telecommunications system for Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland Florida, and as such, put me in formal contact with George Lee "Sparky" Anderson. He was very cordial and professional toward me though sometimes quite exacting with regard to his ring-down circuit to the bullpen. He had an easy going persona and an infectious smile. What I remember most is his marvelous white hair, twinkling eyes, and a pipe in his mouth. Of the five or six times we met and spoke, he always had his pipe. I never asked him what tobacco blend he smoked, but know for certain from the scent that it was a sweet aromatic. Hindsight is always 20/20, and if I had it to do all over again, I'd shelve the awkward nerves I felt in his company. I'd dismiss his larger-than-life superstar status and just smoke a bowl of tobacco with him and make small talk about the weather... and of baseball.
*Sparky Anderson: February 22, 1934 - November 4, 2010.
I've a fondness for old pipe and tobacco advertisements, including those in poster or placard form. I can still recall seeing them everywhere as a kid, they were truly works of art. In this particular 1926 ad for Tuxedo Tobacco, Gilda Gray's image is depicted. Gilda Gray was an American actress and dancer who was quite fashionable in the roaring 20's. She got her start in Vaudeville and eventually became a successful Hollywood film star. She was perhaps best known for her trademark dance... it was affectionately named the "Shimmy." Now I'm quite sure this young lady didn't smoke a pipe, but it is possible she liked men who did - at least I like to think so.
When you're least expecting it, a pipe and tobacco can sometimes come together in a way that exceeds the usual experience of either of them separately. It's sort of like magic. It affords that fleeting, transcendent smoke that surmounts our grandest expectations. I have this particular pipe that was my Grandfathers. He died in 1975 and it was gifted to me when I got a little older. It's a meerschaum lined briar in the shape of a billiard. This pipe (pictured above) has always been an exceptional smoker from the very first bowl. The subtle particulars of any tobacco shine through distinctly, emphatically, without even so much as an inkling of gurgle or bite. Every time I light it up I'm glad that I selected it from my modest rack. I've predominantly smoked Latakia mixtures in it, and it's never let me down. Today was no exception. With book in hand, I selected Knightsbridge, a rich Latakia blend from one of my favorite tobacconists, Benningtons Tobacconist in Sarasota, Florida. Some days, everything just seems right in the world!