The Thoughts of a Frumpy Professor

............................................ ............................................ A blog devoted to the ramblings of a small town, middle aged college professor as he experiences life and all its strange variances.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

A Memory Revisited (Part 1)

As I mentioned, I thought I would start to replay a series of essays I wrote several years ago that involved my first foray into the world of smoking a pipe.  Please keep in mind that the voice in these essays was a voice from me several years ago, but I am posting these verbatim so that you can a) read these thoughts if you desire, b) comment on them (I *do* desire comments and suggestions as always), and c) to hear my "voice" on the matter from the many years ago when I wrote these.

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There are many days in a man's life that are remarkable and sear themselves into a permanent circuitboard in your mind. They are often called milestones, and a lucky man has many positive milestones. Each time he becomes a new father, his wedding day, the purchase of a home, the first copulatory activity, the first new car, his first time getting drunk, the first day of school, the first home run he has hit, earning his Ph.D., these are but a few of many such milestones I have had the pleasure to experience. They are all wonderful, vivid memories in my mind. The same is true for the memory I am about to share:

The day itself was sunny, yet pleasantly cool and dry. It was perhaps 60 degrees and virtually no humidity marred the texture of the air. The woods had always been a fun and enjoyable playground for me to explore and feel excitement. Being only eight years old, the woods seemed vast and unadorned by any trappings of any other human. It was, I thought, a virgin forest that only I had explored, and yet it abutted right on the edge of our family's two acre parcel of land... how lucky was that? Suffice it to say, I felt these woods were my own personal space and I relished spending hours looking at various bugs, plants, twigs, salamanders, frogs and other ascundry items I could collect, examine, and learn to identify. Yet, this day was to be even more special and amazing in its effect upon me. As I sat in the small clearing in the middle of this forest, I gripped the magical beast and proceeded to...

The start of this adventure could be said to have been a part of me my whole life, perhaps it was genetic? But I only became cognizant of my interest in this adventure roughly 4 weeks prior to this monumental day. This start occurred, as I recall, when I was walking home from school and I met my father sitting on the rickety, old picnic table in the back yard, concentrating very heavily on a stack of papers he was grading. My father was an English teacher in the public school system and was busy making comments on the senior's final project, a 20 page paper over some topic or other that I do not recall. His brow was furrowed, his eyes squinting through the owlish lenses of his glasses, and his moustache and beard bristled from the intense concentration he was engaged in. A red grease pencil was poised in his right hand as he quickly made marks about poor grammar, incoherence, etc on the essays.

"So many mistakes!" I heard him mutter under his breath as I approached.

He must have heard my footsteps as I neared the picnic table for he glanced up and beaconed me over to sit at the table across from him. As I sat, I could see more vividly the concentration, tension, and focus his efforts in grading had on his facial expression.

"How was your day, my boy? Tell me what you learned in school today." said my father. He was a very focused man, and I could see I had his rapt attention, but I could also still see the furrowed brow and other facial features that belied how he was intently concentrating on work only moments before.

As I began to talk about and describe my day to my father, he reached over to the side of the stack of papers, and picked up his tobacco pouch and pipe in the nearly innate manner I had seen him do many times before. Using only tactile stimuli from his fingertips, not diverting his gaze from me and the details of my day, he proceeded to gracefully and with skill fill his pipe with the gentle brown crumbles of tobacco leaf that were in his pouch. Even though I had seen this process thousands of times before in my young life, for some reason this day I was more acutely aware and attentive to these actions than I had been before.

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I think I will make a break in the writings here for today.  It sort of sets the tone, I suspect.  My father was a remarkable man in many ways.  He was for many years a teacher, but he also was a very strong, laborer and builder.  He was always working to try to make things better in life.  If he were alive in 2017, he would be 94 years old in November. 

PipeTobacco

5 Comments:

Blogger Sharon Qualls said...

The stage is well set.

Thursday, 20 July, 2017  
Blogger Gorilla Bananas said...

This gives us a sense of what you're trying to give up, Professor. You grew up believing that pipe-smoking was in your blood and part-and-parcel of a civilised, intellectual outlook. You need to construct a new narrative based on the idea of change.

Thursday, 20 July, 2017  
Blogger PipeTobacco said...

A new narrative is indeed required, but that is the rub, so-to-speak. How to create as innate and organic a narrative.

Thursday, 20 July, 2017  
Blogger JACKIESUE said...

see comment on other post..love ya sweetie

Friday, 21 July, 2017  
Blogger Jane said...

I remember reading your blog post way back when, about the first time you smoked a pipe.
Looking forward to reading it again!

Saturday, 22 July, 2017  

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