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Smoking on the Back Porch

Richard Wile
From the Print Edition:
John Travolta, Jan/Feb 99

(continued from page 1)

Some nights, in the garage besides his workbench, under the old cans of nails, I could smell the fragrance of cigar smoke, and one Saturday afternoon I walked to the corner store and bought a red-and-white package of Phillies Cheroots. There's enough of my Grampy Cleaves in me, however, that the next time I was in Harvard Square I went to Leavitt and Peirce, where owner-manager Paul Macdonald introduced me to Hoyo de Monterrey Excaliburs.

My semiweekly Dunhill, Ashton or Hoyo de Monterrey has become a rite, a ceremony in honor of heritage. Over the past 40 years, I've watched society's perceptions of cigars and cigar smokers change, but what those who simplistically blame magazines and advertisers for our practice don't understand is how smoking fulfills the basic human need for ritual and contemplation. Tonight, as I reflect on my own changing perceptions about Grampy Lufkin, about this house and this town, I can sense a rhythm, like the tide's ebb and flow, the rocking back and forth of the porch swing, or the inhale/exhale of my smoking. I think of Ecclesiastes: "To everything there is a season," and of the beautiful summer evening in which I now find myself.

Out of the night a door slams and a dog barks. The evening breeze again nudges the wind chimes and the light from the candle flickers on the windowsill. The smoke from my cigar has filled the air like incense.

Richard Wile is a writer and writing instructor in Yarmouth, Maine.


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