METALandMIRRORS: Pipes: Journey through the Briar - A Perfect Smoke

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Pipes: Journey through the Briar - A Perfect Smoke

The wife and I smoke a pipe two or maybe three times a week; mostly on the weekends and never in the house, only outside or in the attached garage.  As I’ve mentioned before, now that it’s starting to get pretty cold outside, we’ve started going to our local tobacconist shop to satisfy our craving.  On one of the garage nights, we grabbed two pipes from our rotation, packed them with our tobacco of choice, and ran out to the garage to light up.  Now if you can picture two grown adults with wide smiles on their faces racing each other to get to the garage, that’s us.
When the wife and I smoke together (which is essentially always), our discussion centers around the tobacco we’ve chosen to smoke along with other miscellaneous topics.  We always rate our tobacco experiences after every smoke since we keep a spreadsheet of every tobacco and pipe we’ve purchased to include when, where, and how much.  With 74 blends and now 55 pipes, you have to keep track somehow.  Unfortunately, I find my memory does not always retain the best parts of our discussions or experiences, and in this case looking back, I cannot for the life of me recall what pipe nor the tobacco I was smoking that gave me what I’ll call the perfect smoke. 

I read an article talking about trying to get the perfect smoke; the one where you essentially light once beyond your charring light, tamp a few times with no re-lights, and BAM, you’re at the end of your bowl and realize you just had that rare bowl where everything aligned.  Rare as in it smoked perfectly!  With our first year of pipe smoking coming to a close, I have to come clean and say I’ve only had this perfect pipe maybe twice.  The one I can truly recall was one evening in our garage. Even during our discussion rants, when I would go back to the pipe, it was still smoking.  A slight draw on the pipe and I was back to business.  You stare at the wisps of smoke and think to yourself and smile inwardly knowing exactly why you smoke a pipe and the real satisfaction you get from it.  I'd pick up the pipe and draw repeatedly and it would continue to roar back to life over and over again. The room note was perfect, the flavor was full and rich and I kept wanting more.

Now, don’t get me wrong, when you have to “manage” your pipe until the end, that experience itself it rewarding as it takes your mind places you won’t get any other way.  But, when that pipe seems to manage itself, well, for those who’ve experienced what I’m talking about, you know the sorcery that I speak of.  When the perfect pipe happens, you naturally want to attribute it to your advanced pipe smoking skills, and to some degree that is true.  Nothing beats experience I always say.  Given this perfect pipe phenomenon is rare to me, I got busy thinking back on what pipe did I use, exactly how I'd filled the bowl, the consistency of my tobacco, etc., in hopes of reconstructing the circumstance, because bowls of tobacco that perform at that advanced level are usually blue moons apart.  I’m clearly still working to figure that question out. 

My wife and I typically find we’re fiddling with the bowl, tamping one way or the other to adjust the burn and compensate for our packing methods, or gently breathing through the stem to try to keep the tobacco lit. We’ll find ourselves poking a hole down through the tobacco to provide an outlet if the draw is too tight, or even prying part of the tobacco up and then gently push it back down in an effort to improve the smoke. It seems like we’re often chasing and losing that perfect smoke, so when I finally caught it, I wanted to thump my chest like King Kong on the Empire State Building 

Trying to repeat this perfect smoke is just one of the many reasons we enjoy the pipe.  I haven’t found the recipe for perfection just yet, and maybe a small part of me doesn’t want to.  After all, if it’s all perfect every time, then what.  Pipe smoking is an art, and does an artist ever call themselves perfect every time?

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