Last night I had a lengthy conversation with a fellow fly fishing enthusiast that I happened to have met right here on Sexyloops. As we've gotten to know each other over the past year, we've discovered that in addition to fly fishing, we also share many other common interests...one of which happens to be the hobby of pipe smoking.
Compared to my fly fishing addiction, my interest in pipe smoking is a fairly recent development. I took up the hobby on a whim in 2009 shortly after I exited the angling industry. I was looking for something to foster a calmer more contemplative and meditative mindset and happened to stumble upon an article that insisted that pipe smoking does just that.
Much like fly casting, smoking a pipe does seem to have a soothing effect on both the mind and the soul. In the same way, I can get lost in watching a fly line unroll through the air, I am also quickly mesmerized by the act of sitting on my porch watching the rings of smoke exit the bowl, expand and then disappear into the cold night air. The experience becomes even richer when it is paired with fine Bourbon served neat, or with just a splash of water.
Without deviating too much from the subject of this essay, I quickly discovered that entering the hobby of pipe smoking can be as overwhelming and all encompassing as fly fishing. So, as I did when I picked up the long rod in 1995, I jumped right in neck deep. And, while I don't see smoking a pipe to consume nearly as much of my time as fishing does, it has become one of those occasional guilty pleasures that really seems to complement and enhance my time on the water or behind the vise in a very natural way.
Like fly patterns and rod tapers, one can become not only overwhelmed, but downright obsessed with the finer points of pipe smoking. The seemingly limitless variety of tobacco blends alone is enough to boggle the mind. Although most hardcore enthusiasts are firmly in the camp of preferring the English blends, I tend to lean more towards the conservative aromatics myself. Much like the Bamboo vs. Glass vs. Graphite debate, I strongly feel that as it is with rods, you should fish what you like, drink what you want, smoke what you enjoy, and to hell with what everyone else thinks.
As it turns out, many of the men in my family, who were passionate outdoorsman were also pipe smokers. As do I, they enjoyed the more meditative and contemplative aspects of time spent in nature. They understood that it's not the catch or the kill that creates the experience, but rather the privilege of being able to disconnect from a world that seems to be spiraling more out of control by the second.
Speaking of the men in my family, a few months ago I wrote a Front Page that spoke of the first time I saw my grandfather cast a fly rod when I was about 9 or so. That article also detailed how now that he is now 94 years old and in a managed care facility, he chose to pass his fly fishing equipment down to me. What I left out was that in addition to the fly fishing gear, he also gifted me a large portion of his pipe collection, along with a pipe stand and a beautiful wooden tobacco holder as well.
In honor of not only my 94 year old Grandfather, but also my new friend in Tasmania, I think I'll go pour myself a glass of Four Roses Small Batch and pack up a bowl of Sutliff Black Cordial. It's a chilly night here in the Texas Hill Country, and I can't think of a better way to spend an evening, than behind the Renzetti tying a few Bonefish Sliders, and raising a glass to valuable relationships, both new and old.
Hope you all have a great week,