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We spent all day at the track drag racing a steroid injected Chevy S-10. It was a 4 a.m. wake up call followed by a three hour drive to Interlake Dragway. After five runs down the strip to qualify it was time for eliminations. Despite some inconsistencies during time trials we made it through to the semi-finals before being given the boot by a supercharged crotch rocket motorcycle. After the three hour ride back home it was as good a time as any to have a seat, to relax and to unwind.
Since starting to smoke cigars regularly I really wanted to try pipe tobacco. On E-bay I ordered a handcrafted tobacco pipe from the Ukraine and from a local tobacconist I bought 25 milligrams of Cherry Jubilee tobacco. The aroma that this small bag of tobacco emitted was intoxicatingly delicious. It was like cracking open a jar of Maraschino cherries, sticking your nose right in the opening and taking a big whiff.
Iíve learned that pipe smoking is a process. I had watched some YouTube videos and did some reading to get an idea of what to do. Carefully I packed the bowl in stages, lightly on the bottom and tighter at the top. Striking a wood match, I toasted the top layer just as you would toast the foot of a cigar. Striking a second match and sucking the flame down the bowl, the tobacco smoldered and lit, a large white puff of smoke engulfing the air around me.
Pulling that soft, light, cherry flavored tobacco smoke into my mouth, I let it sit, getting a good taste. The smoke was different than a cigar. It was near white, soft and very light flavored especially compared to the dark colored cigars that I typically enjoy. This lasted a few minuted before it went out. Striking another match, I lit it again repeating the same process, pulling the smoke to my mouth and letting it sit so I could get a sense for it.
It wasnít long before it went out again.
I made a beginners mistake. Despite my efforts I hadnít properly packed a bowl so that it would stay lit and smolder in between puffs. I hadnít pushed the loose tobacco far down enough, I hadnít packed it tight enough as I filled it to the brim. Lesson learned!
And so, every once in a while I was forced to light the bowl again as I paid closer attention, tampering the bowl down as it burned to try and keep it lit between puffs. Near the end, I had a good run of it too. It was burning well and staying lit as I carried on in conversation with my friend. Overall it was an enjoyable experience, a little more work than a cigar would be but a great end to a great day.
With plenty of tobacco left, Iíll improve my method; properly packing the bowl, caring for the ember, tampering it down, drawing in the right amount of air and most importantly, keeping it lit from start to finish.
There are days (and sometimes late nights) when I want to sit down and enjoy a smoke but I look at my cigars and think, I donít want an entire cigar or I simply donít have time for an entire cigar. A tobacco pipe is the perfect answer. You can pack as much or as little as you want. You can put it down and pick it back up hours later.
There is an art to smoking a tobacco pipe and as a creative type the process and care that come with it is appealing. I may not have gotten it right the first time but there will always be next time!
Jean Gaultier is the blogger-in-chief of the Countryside Gentleman, a blog geared towards men based out of Manitoba, Canada. Follow Jean Gaultier on Twitter @JeanGaultierCo. To read the Countryside Gentleman visit http://countrysidegentleman.blogspot.com.