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There is no big sexy hook for this post. There is no call to action in this post.

This post is simply a story; a recollection of times gone by. Think of it as your mid-winter warmer.

I have been smoking a pipe since I turned 18 and could legally buy my own stuff (Mr. Reed and I actually bought our first pipes together!). I have smoked a good number of bowls since then. I have shared deep intellectual conversation over some leaf. I have had celebratory bowls. I have smoked in the midst of struggle and strife. I have smoked while hiking and even just to do it. But by far my favorite smoke of all was July 4, 2008.

My sister and I had driven up to Wyoming in order to buy real fireworks. Anything that shot off the ground was banded in Colorado at the time. It was the second year we had made the trip. The first year turned into a bottle rocket war with me getting the worst of it when my mom found out. Some choice words on the topic insured this wouldn’t happen again.

But that wasn’t on the agenda for this night, although we did have a mishap with one of the tubes falling over after it was lit. We had a bigger group this year; we were more relaxed, longing for the comfort afforded by close friends.

So the night went. Lighting fireworks, throwing boxes of bunker busters into our hobo fire, smoking pipes, enjoying pleasant conversation, or being wrapped up in the moment, raptured, unable to do anything but be in the joyful present. We drank the day to its dregs, even taking those in without noticing.

It could have been any number of things that made that night/morning so special. The warmth of friendship surrounding me. The joy of being in that moment with nothing else occupying my mind. The end of an era as this was my last summer before college. It might have even just been the fireworks!

But one thing is certain…

As I lay on the ground, with my jacket tucked under head, puffing on my pipe the sun crested vividly that morning. No one spoke, no one needed to. We were humbly there enjoying the spectacle; watching a master painter make something beautiful of the blank canvass; streaks of orange, yellow, and pink swirled, mingled, and then merged giving way to brilliant blue. I guess in some ways it felt like riding off into the sunset…especially after my mom made us pancakes when we got inside.

I said that I wouldn’t, but if I had to give you a call to action, dear reader, it would be to not search for the unforgettable moment but rather to be so enamored with the event at hand that the moment can overwhelm you and leave its unique imprint on your mind. Never neglect the lessons of the past; always keep a mind for the future; but always enjoy fully what is at hand; the only tense we can interact with and truly change.

Mr. Rafal
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