Wonderings During a Texas Summer

While it has been very unseasonably hot in many parts of the USA, it has actually been unseasonably cool down here in central Texas where my home is. The grass is green, the corn is growing and due to so much rain, all of the lakes, rivers and farm tanks are full to the brim. After the record cold and icy conditions we had down here in February, I would have accepted the normal heat without so much as a peep of complaint. But I admit, I’ll sure take what we’re getting right now. Normally, we will have had many days of 100 degree heat by mid-July, but here were on July 16th (as of this writing), and the temperature has not even hit 100 degrees once this year!

Due to the unseasonably cooler temperatures, I’ve been sitting on my back patio in the evenings a lot more than normal. My routine is pretty simple on weekdays. I start work around 5:30 AM and quit around 4:00 PM. I then get in my workout – I know, you younger guys would laugh at my slow paced three mile walks around the back pasture or my pitifully light weight lifting or hitting the heavy bag routines out in the barn – but hey, at least I’m getting some daily exercise. What motivates me is that years ago I made a deal with myself. I could not sit on the back patio before dinner with my pipe and an ice cold glass of sweet tea unless I got in my workout. I usually get in an hour of just sitting – and occasionally even thinking – prior to the dinner bell. And with this summer, thus far, being so nice weather wise, I’ve had more “wondering” time than usual.

When I’m not wondering why my 18-year old son is at an age where he thinks I’ve lost my brain, or why my 12-year old grandson can now hammer me at basketball out on the court, or why my wife needs so many pairs of shoes, I wonder about pipes and tobaccos. A big surprise, right?

Have you ever wondered why all of your pipes, despite being blocks of briar attached to an acrylic or vulcanite stem all taste different? I’m sure most of you know what I’m talking about. When you pull a pipe from your rack to smoke, you already know  what the briar’s taste presentation – which is different than the taste presentation of the blend that may be smoked in it – will be like. I call it “briar taste memory.” I have about 35-40 pipes that I will smoke. And even when I pull out a briar that I’ve not smoked in several years, my “briar taste memory” comes into play when I look at that particular pipe before even reaching for it. I just know what the taste of the briar itself will be like. And some of you know from a prior blog, that I have a Bruce Weaver sandblasted straight Billiard shaped pipe that is my first pipe of the day and has been since 2007. That means that when I haul myself out of bed and start smoking that pipe (after my first few sips of coffee), I will know the exact briar taste sensation that I’ll receive since I use the same pipe and the same blend in it with each smoke. I’ve smoked that same Weaver pipe with the same blend every day for the last 14-years which comes out to more than 5,000 smokes (give or take a few bowls), in that magical Weaver!

I also sit and wonder why a particular pipe will choose to trick me. I’ve had pipes that are as complicated as a woman. I’ll smoke one regularly for several weeks and thoroughly enjoy each smoking experience. And then all of a sudden, one day the pipe chooses to deliver a bad smoke. And then a second and a third. What the heck? I’ll change the tobacco that I put in it, I’ll pack it more loosely or more tightly, I’ll smoke it faster or slower, etc. Nothing will help. So, I put away the pipe for a long period of time and then give ‘er another go. Sometimes the magic returns and sometimes it doesn’t. Go figure?

Lighters also cause me to wonder. How come we can put a man on the moon and make computers that are smarter than we are, yet we can’t make a lighter that works perfectly for longer than a week. And after all these years, I still have not figured out how to properly fill the dadgum things with butane either. I always wind up with more butane spewing onto the floor than in the pipe!

Finally, I wonder about pipe cleaners. Mostly I wonder who the inventor was and whether he became a kazillionaire. Have you ever met a pipe smoker who didn’t use pipe cleaners? Of course not. The inventor had to have gotten rich, right? In my mind, the necessity of pipe cleaners rivals the necessity of toilet paper because you have to have both to complete your mission.

Happy wonderings,

Steve