From my very first charring light, I've viewed pipe smoking as a solitary hobby, reserved for quiet moments and reflection. That's not to say that every bowl requires deep, existential thoughts or intense contemplation; just that it seems to be ideal as an individual pursuit. Though the argument could be made that pipes are themselves smoking companions, I've come to appreciate them as functional art that's best enjoyed in seclusion. However, I do of course smoke here in the office while I work because it helps keep me focused and calm during chaotic times, especially during inventory updates when we're adding fresh pipes to the site. But I most enjoy a pipe when I have the time to unwind and decompress, seeking solace in my favorite smoking spot — my front porch.
Most often I adhere to a schedule, since I'm a strong proponent of organization (contrary to the organized chaos that rules my desk), typically reserving a bowl for after dinner but sometimes preferring spontaneity, particularly on the weekend when free time is readily available. I'll crack open a tin of something special I've been meaning to try in my ever expanding cellar, or revisit a favorite that I haven't treated myself to in a while.
Though the argument could be made that pipes are themselves smoking companions, I've come to appreciate them as functional art that's best enjoyed in seclusion.
Next comes my pre-smoking ritual of packing the bowl with my selected blend, setting up a workstation on my kitchen table and diligently eluding disorderly chaos. Depending on the blend, I'll rub out flakes or provide drying time before packing my bowl, maximizing my smoking enjoyment and learning over time what best suits my smoking preferences and needs for the selected pipe.
Once the appropriate measures have been taken, I'll grab my lighter, pipe tool, favorite ashtray, and head outside to the front porch. It's a modest yet effective arsenal that has served me faithfully, the ashtray one of my prized pipesmoking acquisitions in particular. I purchased it at a local antique store, finding it randomly placed on a table with other vintage ashtrays, the majority of them from old hotels or defunct clubs from around the world. It's a French made ashtray, and as I recall, it cost less than a deli sandwich. It accompanies me each time I indulge in my porch pipe, providing a better alternative to dumping dottle and ash on the sidewalk.
I always make sure to leave my cell phone inside and distance myself from any unnecessary outside stimuli that might detract from the enjoyment I've eagerly anticipated. I never clench my pipes, so I'm rather flexible and comfortable with any smoking posture as long as I have ample time to thoroughly enjoy my pipe. Depending on weather conditions or the status of my aging body, I'll usually sit down on the lone step that defines my porch and take in the scenery of the front lawn or observe cars passing along my road. Other times I'll stand, typically leaning against the pillar that stands tall and proud in the corner, silently observing the activities along my street.
I always make sure to leave my cell phone inside and distance myself from any unnecessary outside stimuli that might detract from the enjoyment I've eagerly anticipated.
I'm fairly certain passersby have questioned what exactly I'm smoking or performed double takes to confirm they've indeed seen someone smoking a pipe out in the wild. But once I'm out there with my pipe, I'm in a world of smoking bliss where I'm unaffected by outside opinions or perceptions. I patiently puff away, taking in the flavor and nuances of the blend I'm enjoying and acknowledging the calmness that pipesmoking instills in me.
While solitary smoking is my preferred method, I'll occasionally bring a pipe with me to my favorite local bar. I typically avoid smoking a pipe in public venues due to the line of exhausting questions that typically follow once someone sees a pipe, and because I'm an overanalyzing introvert who finds excessive socializing to be quite tiring. However, I enjoy hearing stories about someone's father or grandfather who smoked a pipe and the fond recollections of people intrigued by the pastime. I've always been fascinated that pipesmoking provides common ground for complete strangers, even when one of them has never smoked a pipe in their life.
However, I enjoy hearing stories about someone's father or grandfather who smoked a pipe and the fond recollections of people intrigued by the pastime.
One particular pipe experience at my local watering hole continually stands out to me. After enjoying some beverages with my buddy, who likes to occasionally partake in pipe smoking, we headed outside to the establishment's porch. We sat down in a pair of rocking chairs, lit our bowls, and chatted while sporadically drawing from our briars. Nearing the end of our bowls, an older, bearded gentleman came walking along the lengthy sidewalk that led to the front door. I immediately noticed a well worn corn cob clenched between his teeth, a rare circumstance where I've seen someone other than my coworkers smoking a pipe in public. We exchanged pleasantries and he followed up with, "I see there's some old souls out here," before heading inside. My friend and I nodded our heads gently in agreement and I thought to myself, "Well, maybe I should start carrying a pipe at all times." Not only because I could possibly run into other pipe smokers and we could share the camaraderie of the hobby, but it would also afford me more smoking time. Seems like a win-win to me.
Do you prefer smoking alone or in the company of others? Where are some of your favorite smoking spots? I'm always looking for new ideas.