One of my favorite things is pipe tobacco.
And not just the smell.
I have vivid memories of my great Grandaddy rolling cigarettes on his knee; wrapping the paper into tight cylinders as I sat on the hardwood living room floor of his Georgia farmhouse. I remember the screen door being propped open, letting the air from the fields slowly make its way into the room. I remember the porch swing creaking and the katydids chirping in lazy summer afternoon.
And Grandaddy would smoke his freshly rolled cigarette.
I remember this every time I roll a fresh cigarette. I don't smoke very happen often-- only once in a while. The memories and sentiments from the feel and smell of pipe smoke make the whole activity painfully nostalgic.
I remember Mr. Joe. He was an old man who lived across the street from my family when we were still living near the coast of South Carolina. He was in his sixties or seventies-- I never knew his age. When you're little you think old is old and young is young. All I knew is that he was old. And he had soft, downy white hair and a fluffy white mustache and that he smelled like old pipe tobacco. It was an oddly homey and comforting smell. I used to throw my tiny arms around his midsection and breath in deeply, inhaling the heady, rich aroma. He kept a pipe in his pocket and would light it on our front porch. Mom never let him smoke inside, but the smell traveled. Mr. Joe was a painter. He let me my mother take some of his odd jobs to help us out. I remember playing around the huge oil drums in the local airfield as my mother painted them a brilliant blue.
He died recently. My dad and I stopped by to visit on our way through town. My heart ached to hear the news.
But I digress.
Smoking pipe tobacco is a way for me to relive old, old memories. It helps me hone my senses. Every detail captures my attention: the way the moist tobacco leaves stain my fingers with deep aroma as I roll a new cigarette. The way it crackles when I light the tip. The feel as it burns through the paper. The taste as it lingers, sweet, heavy, and woody. The way the smoke curls slowly, like a dancer undulating, like an invisible painter making slow, curling strokes through the thick air.
The smell lingers for days. It doesn't invade the senses like stale cigar smoke or offend the senses like stale cigarette smoke. It lingers quietly, fading slowly and gently like a friendly memory, reminding of simpler, better days.