Cigar Aficionado

A Top Ten Day

Every year, a friend of mine nominates the top ten days of the summer. The criteria are pretty loose, but basically it has to be warm, but not too warm, sunny but some clouds are allowed, and of course, no rain any time during the day. Last Sunday here in the Northeast wasn’t just a contender for a top ten day, it may have already won the title for the Best Day of the Summer: mid-70s, not a cloud in the sky and a light breeze to keep the bugs down and moderate whatever warmth there was from becoming too much.

My friend Chuck, the owner of the R8 that I wrote about a few blogs ago, and I and our wives had planned a picnic more than two weeks ago. We were going to drive our cars (yes, another road trip in tandem in the R8 and the S5) up to one of the best-kept secrets in the New York area: Storm King Arts Center in Mountainville, New York, about 10 miles from West Point on the west side of the Hudson River. It is a 500-acre preserve given over to an outdoor sculpture museum. Some of the greatest sculpture artists of the 20th century are represented, and you can lay eyes on everything from several Alexander Calders, 13 works by David Smith, a granite sculpture by Isamu Noguchi, a specially commissioned Richard Serra, a Henry Moore and a mysteriously mesmerizing piece by Andy Goldsworthy called Storm King Wall, a 2,278 foot long stone wall. The sculptures are scattered around the grounds, which include sloping hills, wide meadows and tall trees framing the long promenades. It is truly a spectacular place.

We spent an hour walking around the property, which isn’t nearly enough, but by that point, we had worked up an appetite. There is a designated picnic area near the front parking area, but even though there were probably 60 people dining al fresco, there was no sense of being crowded. We picked out a place under a tree with an unobstructed view of Calder’s Arch. There literally wasn’t a cloud in the sky as we picnicked away.

Finally, I looked at Chuck and said, “it’s time.” We chatted briefly about the possibility of someone objecting to our lighting up cigars, but there was a light breeze, there was no one with kids near by, and we really wanted to smoke. I offered him the option of a Padrón Anniversary 1964 Series with a natural wrapper or an Fuente Fuente OpusX torpedo; he chose the former because of his fond memories of a visit with the Padrón family in Nicaragua while he was there on a mission to build homes for some local citizens, and I lit up the Opus. Both cigars had at least eight years of age on them. Both smokes were fabulous, and we simply stood at the edge of the tree’s shadow, smoking and talking about cigars, golf and what a great day it was.

Unfortunately, the afternoon had to end because we both had other obligations that evening back at our homes. We finished the cigars, packed up and zoomed off the down the highway after a perfect afternoon on one of the summer’s top ten days.