I’m a lucky man in many ways, and that’s particularly true for cigars: I get to smoke some amazing things. But I’m even luckier, because I get to smoke them with great people.
On Saturday, I drove up to see my in-laws with my wife and son. We hadn’t been there in a couple of weeks and wanted to give them a break from cooking, so we brought up a simple lunch and some good wine. Store that in the best-laid-plans category. When we walked into the dining room, it was set for a king’s feast. There was fine stemware on the table, a decanter filled with a good red, salad, roasted root vegetables, several varieties of breads and crackers and a seafood appetizer. Without even counting the food we brought, there was probably enough to feed eight. And there were only five of us. (Did I mention my in-laws used to own Italian restaurants? Once that way of life gets in the blood, it doesn’t come out. This is not a complaint.) Following a long-standing family tradition, a simple lunch turned into a big, filling meal. I ate more than my share, and my teenage son made his grandmother proud with his hearty appetite. There were plenty of laughs and smiles.
After lunch, I walked outside with my father-in-law, Fulvio, to go smoke a cigar, and maybe walk off a couple of the calories. He started smoking cigars long before I met his daughter about 24 years ago. Fulvio is 81, but could easily pass for a man in his 60s. He grabbed a walking stick from a rack he keeps in the garage, a room that is filled with things he finds interesting, from Ferrari calendars to colorful bottles and all manner of knick-knacks. I took out the cigars I had brought for the day, a pair of Punch Short de Punch Cubans, Cigar Aficionado’s No. 5 Cigar of 2020. We lit them up and began walking.
Fulvio lives in a beautiful spot in the northeast, with a pond and plenty of trees. In nature he is in his element, and he marvels at its beauty. He sees things most people miss. As he walked by some kind of tall weed, he casually snapped it off, taking it in his hand. (The structure of the seed pods at its top, arranged like a bandolier of ammunition ready to be launched, caught his eye.) He paid some attention to a selection of sticks in a tree, moving them this way and that, creating a bit of art in a quiet area few would ever see.
We walked and we talked, catching up, speaking of everything and speaking of nothing. While puffing away by the pond, we saw the small, head of a curious turtle pop up from the water, looking around, the only witness to our conversation.
The words flowed. The cigar was undeniably a great one, but paired with quality time spent with my father-in-law, it became even better. Smoke a cigar with a good friend, or a member of your family. The company you keep can make for the very finest smokes. And, after all, sharing a great cigar with someone you really care about is one of life’s greatest pleasures.