At last, maybe, summer’s hot breath is fading into fall’s blessed currents that chill the morning air and put a lively step in the morning walk.
Fall mornings are ready-made for a pipe and a walk. Especially if you have a dog tagging along, or leading the way. Of course, the Pundit is the proud owner of a beautiful Golden Retriever. Best dog on the planet hands down.
There might be an argument or two on that little brag, but in the Pundit’s world, nothing quite matches the Golden. The fact that she is European in heritage (all Scottish from paws to ears) is another plus.
Give that a moment to sink in. I’m thinking pipes and tobacco with that marvelous European heritage as well.
Ok. Dog school is adjourned. On to fall and pipes and tobacco.
When the crispness of autumn arrives, Pundit usually goes to one of the older pipes in the herd, one that has been through the toils and tremors of life. And offered comfort, resolve, and relaxation all of what a day presents, the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Some of my best companions on cool mornings are a couple of Ashtons and Petersons, and just maybe a special meerschaum that has logged many a mile with me.
Or, one of Ian Walker’s Northern Briars English pipes, especially his Countryman, a Charatan shape. You can find Ian on his web page.
I first encountered this master craftsman at a pipe show, which one escapes me now. It was either the big Chicagoland International Pipe and Tobacciana Show extravaganza or in Richmond, Va., at the Conclave Of Richmond Pipe Smokers. A “Southron” adventure. Ahem and harumph!
I was intrigued by Ian’s pipe-making history and the superbly made pipes. His grandfather, George Walker, began Northern Briars in 1958 but had been creating pipes since 1922.
Ian began in his grandfather’s shop and worked up from sweeping the place clean to working with silver to repairing. He later went on his own with Northern Briars, absorbed in an extraordinary pipe-making atelier.
And just to add to this unique artisan’s history, a note from his web page points out that: “Ian lives with his wife, Catriona, on a traditional style narrow beam canal boat in the heart of England. His workshop on the 70-foot boat is inspired by the lifestyle of the working boats of Britain’s industrial heritage. With over 2000 miles of rural waterways to meander through, Ian has combined all the essentials of home and work into a practical, mobile reality.”
The Pundit owns several of Ian’s wonders.
And the tobacco? That would have to be a Virginia blend or a really good Virginia with Perique. And some English to lighten and brighten up the day a bit. Some burly, mayhaps, or a little velvety Kentucky burly aromatic, Scandinavian Group-Lane Blended sweetheart of a tobacco. Just right for a pipe, coat, dog and morning walk.
I also especially enjoy one of William Faulkner’s favorite pipe blends, My Mixture 965, now blended by Peterson.
Smoking “My Mixture” reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from Faulkner: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” Huzzah!
An old and now departed friend once showed me his special mixture: Half and Half, Bugler, with a dash of Sir Walter Raleigh. It was strong enough to stop a buffalo in full stampede mode.
His pipes looked as if they had endured trench warfare. And perhaps they had.
That friend, who will go unnamed here, was an author and erstwhile political publicist. He, too, had been through many a battle, political and otherwise. I never saw him without a lit pipe.
I took a clue from him—leave tobacco blending to the experts. That was after I tried his blend. Let’s just leave the rest to your imagination.
And that is one good reason I purchase tried and true brands by the masters. You know who they are. My attempts at blending resulted in something on the order of blah and bah, humbug.
So, some of my choices for brisk fall mornings or the evening chill are Capstan Blue Flake, now under the Mac Baren tobacco blending umbrella, Plum Pudding (Seattle Pipe Club), Escudo under the A&C Petersen flag, and Orlik Golden Sliced by Orlik. And many a C&D Tobacco from its master blender Jeremy Reeves, a true chef of tobacco blends.
These are just a few of Pundit favorites (see photo for more Pundit favs). Don’t get me started running down the list I enjoy on snappy fall days. It would take us a while, like sitting around listening to ancients smoking and solving the world’s problems, warming achy bones at a pot-bellied stove in a country grocery store. Just sayin’!
And now a couple of literature’s finest authors and pipe smokers of the past:
Evelyn Waugh, English novelist, and author/journalist was born Oct. 28, 1903, and died April 10, 1966.
And P.G. Wodehouse, also an English author, was born Oct. 15, and died Feb. 14, 1975.
For just a superb piece on P.G. Wodehouse, his literary legacy, and his love of his pipes and tobacco, be sure to check out Chuck Stanion’s Pipe Line at SmokingPipes.com, Aug. 20, 2021.
Outstanding writing about one of English literature’s greatest storytellers by Chuck Stanion, one of pipes and tobaccos finest writers.
A parting thought: Here’s to a spectacular fall in all its beauty with a fine pipe in hand.