Everyone knows about the effect smoke can have on…well, nearly everything. Smoke damage can be responsible for the loss of furniture, art, clothes and so many other objects. Cigarette smoke is truly an evil presence. Before the smoking ban in pubs of NYC, I would come home stinking of the left-over Marlboros. It was disgusting to me then and it’s retchingly disgusting to me now.
“Lips that touch tobacco shall not touch mine”.
But let’s consider the other side of smoke. Wood smoke is so important in many recipes. Who can live without smoked salmon from Norway? Not me.
And woodsmoke gives an extra something to Irish Whiskey and such fine things as whitefish. Woodsmoke on someones clothes does not recall a visit to a bar, no, it evokes a certain freshness. It speaks to the camaraderie of a camp fire, the stories, the tall tales and the thoughtful silence of staring into the flames.
I’m sitting near our fire pit. It’s the first fire we’ve had this year. The temperature is in the 40’s. I’m reading a book titled The Five. It’s about the untold lives of the victims of Jack the Ripper. I love history and I love Ripper lore. There is smoke from the fire circling around me and my wine and my book. The smoke wafts over my book. It stings my eyes. Will the book absorb the smoke? Will I open the book one evening in the future, re-reading the part of Annie Chapman…and smell the smoke? Perhaps when we leave this lakeside cottage for an apartment in NYC, will I open the book and begin to remember the May evening when I sat and sipped white wine and read about the tragic lives of five victims?
Smoke induces memories.
For me, most of them are fond and worth keeping in my heart. I’m recalling campfires from my childhood days of Adirondack camping, hiking in the High Peaks as a teenager, canoe camping with my wife and my late brother, Chris.