A Grand Day! (Part 5)
[Please note, if you have not done so, and wish to read earlier parts of this essay, please scroll down to the May 25th entry where the essay begins. Subsequent parts occur in reverse order.]
The sadness that enveloped me and the frustration that gripped at my soul was enormous and I cried for a long, long time. However, after a while, the frustration dissipated and I needed to figure out what my next plan would be.
I had several options but was unsure which to select. One, I could simply forget the whole thing, knock the untouched pipe tobacco out of the bowl of the pipe and carefully sneak the pipe back into my father's den. Two, I could go sneak out a few more matches from the kitchen. Or, three, I could hide the pipe and tobacco and try again when the opportunity presented itself. Option one was quite distasteful to me and I quickly ignored that option. Likewise, however, option two... trying to immediately get matches from the kitchen, was also unlikely. I knew my mother would be spending a great deal of time in the kitchen for the remainder of the day. Because of this, I knew it would be nearly impossible to obtain matches to try the pipe. With the previous two options unworkable, option three seemed the best bet.
Luckily, as I had been building the platform that was to become the tree house, I had found a small cubby hole in one of the nearby trees that I had been using for storage of various asundery items. I had paper bags, nails, a book and a few magazines as well as other things in the cubby hole. I pulled out one of the brown paper bags... lunch bag sized and carefully placed the filled pipe into the bag. Additionally, I took the remainder of the tobacco leaf I had obtained onto a small piece of paper and folded the edges to keep the extra leaf contained. I also put this into the bag, and then proceeded to crumple the top of the bag closed. I placed the bag back into the far reaches of the cubby hole and then left and went back home.
* * * * *
The pipe sitting out in that cubby hole was just about the only thing I could think about that afternoon and evening. I was concerned that my father might notice it was missing. I was worried someone would find the pipe and steal it. I was fearful an animal might find it and chew it to bits. And finally, I was utterly anxious to be able to go back out there and try it out.
As I sat around, waiting for my chance to grab a few matches, I continued to watch my father engage in his own beautiful dance/battle with the pipe. Shortly after dinner, my father, still dressed in his work clothes from the day's teaching, would go out into the backyard and loosen and remove his tie, unbutton his collar, roll up his shirt sleeves and take off both his shoes and his socks. A rope hammock, strung between two large oak trees, was my father's destination. This was my father's favorite spot to read the paper on dry Summer evenings. He climbed in to the hammock and said back comfortably, the newspaper that was tucked under his arm, now resting on the white linen of the shirt, near his stomach. I and most of my siblings (those that were old enough to walk, anyhow), were playing in a rather raucous game of tag, and my mother was still in the house, mostly likely nursing one of my younger siblings.
My father gently unfolded the newspaper, and with his knees bent, propped the paper against him as he lay in the hammock. With unconscious precision, he reached into his shirt pocket and removed his pipe and lighter. Reaching toward his back pocket with his other hand, he removed his leather tobacco pouch and opened it with one hand and proceeded to guide the crumbles of leaf into the bowl of the pipe he held in his other hand. Again, without glancing up from his newspaper, my father filled and tamped the pipe, and brought it up to his mouth, his bushy moustache and beard enveloping the stem as he gripped it between his teeth. Using his lighter, he melded the flame into the leaf in the bowl and took large, rapid puffs from the pipe to get it going well. Finally, with the pipe well lit, he took a large draw from the stem and inhaled it deeply into his lungs. Slowly he exhaled the rich smoke, and I watched it curl slowly from his nostrils. Again, the sense of relaxation and contentment was on my father's face.
A few moments later, my mother, as was her custom, came out of the house carrying a glass filled with a beverage for my father. The drink was beautifully cold, and today it happened to be lemonade. Other times, my mother would bring my father iced tea, or sometimes a tall glass of beer. As she brought the drink to him, he grinned a broad grin, and removed the pipe from his mouth, took the proffered glass from my mother and took a drink of the lemonade, feeling refreshed. He then reached over to my mother and brought her face close to his and gave her a deep, prolonged, furry-faced kiss of thanks. My mother always appreciated my father and he appreciated her. Their love and kindness to each other and to us children, was a wonderful model for us to wittiness as we grew up. I think it helped each of us make wise decisions in the course and development of our own marriages and ensuing families.
Returning the pipe to his mouth and the half empty glass to his side, my father again began to read the newspaper as my mother went back into the house. After only a few moments, my mother came out with a tray with a pitcher of lemonade and glasses for us children and we also had the wonderful, refreshing drink. My mother went and sat in a chair that was near the garden, very near the hammock by my father.
I realized this was likely my best chance, so I put down the lemonade, and informed my parents I needed to go to the bathroom, and proceeded inside and immediately pocketed at least a half of a dozen matches. I then went into the bathroom and quickly flushed the toilet before heading back outside.
The rest of the evening was spent having fun with my family, but in the back of my mind, I was eagerly awaiting tomorrow, so that I could once again go out into the woods to try out the pipe.
[Another good stopping point for now. Comments or suggestions are always appreciated. Next.... the conclusion to this long-winded story.]