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Cigar Aficionado

A July 4th to Remember

I was away from the office during the first part of July, and for much of the time, almost off the grid in the backcountry of the Canadian Rockies near Lake Louise. But I had a couple of “cigar moments” that I’ll share with you over the next week.

On July 4th, my wife and I spent a lovely evening at the home of a friend of mine. He and his wife have a view that overlooks the spire of a local Presbyterian church, all the way across the Hudson River to the Palisades on the river’s west side. He opened a lovely bottle of 2001 Brunello, and we had a great summer meal with Middle Eastern accents, including grilled lamb chops.

My friend is an avid cigar smoker who, because of health concerns, has cut back on his smoking, but now when he smokes, he wants to savor every second. After the meal, we retired to his porch as the last wisps of sunset-lit clouds turned to pink and then dark orange above the Palisades. He poured two tumblers of an Isle of Jura scotch, and brought out two Opus X Belicosos. We lit up and began an hour of great conversation about American and Israeli politics, the allure of his wide-ranging business interests around the globe, and my impending departure the next morning for the Rockies.

As we talked, we began to see, and then hear, the fireworks celebrations of towns up and down the Hudson. There were are least three or four different shows that kept lighting up the sky, including one that was taking place in a town on the west side of the Palisades, which blocked our view of all but the highest, and biggest, exploding aerials at least five miles away. There were kaleidoscopes of colors in greens, blues, reds and whites, and from the furthest visible explosions, it would take a good 20 to 30 seconds for the sound to reach us.

Our cigars burned low, but we heard a call from our wives from the other side of the house in the driveway amid the sudden pounding of explosions. We went to investigate, and from there, we were looking almost straight up at the annual fireworks’ display at the Sleepy Hollow Country Club, which is less than half a mile from my friend’s house. We could almost see the entire part of the aerial fireworks, and the only thing the grand finale lacked was the heart-pounding depth of being right under the explosions.

We went back to the porch to finish our cigars. We were soon off to finish packing and get ready for an early morning departure to Canada, but the warmth of that July 4th evening was the perfect kick-off to our vacation.