Sunday, January 18, 2009

The North Country

The flames danced along the length of each log in the stone fireplace as the smoke wisped its way up the chimney and the radiant heat streamed out to warm the room. Over the hiss and snap of the fire, he could just hear the water lapping the rocks below the cabin. He packed and lit his pipe with care, the pungent aroma wafting around him.

Despite the quiet loudness of the fire, he heard the horn of a great ship far off in the night. He heard crickets too, singing their eternal song. The wind blew gently, though cold, as it often did in the north country, rustling the remaining leaves high in the trees.

He stood up and started toward the door, puffing on his pipe...and the dog stirred. He beckoned and the dog approached lazily. Together they ventured outside to a moonlit night. He made his way carefully down to the water's edge, the dog by his side. Little illumination was present, for little was needed; both knew the way.

Here he stared out into the darkness, alone with his thoughts and the dog pressed up against him. Far off in the distance, he saw the lights of the big ship in the main channel, making its way seaward. He heard a fish leap out of the water, no doubt drawn to the full moon. The crisp air was still and the smoke from his pipe ribboned skyward.

He tamped at the pipe and puffed it again slowly, the aroma matching the autumn smells surrounding him. The pipe felt warm in his hand against the creeping cold. He patted the dog and felt her tail swishing against his leg.

After standing at the water's edge for some time smoking his pipe, he turned back to the path, overwhelmed, humbled, and inspired at the same time. The dog turned with him and they made their way to the cabin. He heard the ship's horn a final time as he opened the door. He knew it was to be his last night at the cabin, and the north country.

He took match to briar again and placed another log on the fire. He sat next to the fire, the dog settled beside him, and, being a writer, reached for paper and pen. He gathered his thoughts and wrote.

He started, "The flames danced along the length of each log in the stone fireplace
as the smoke wisped its way up the chimney..."


  1. Poigniant and understated.
    Loved it, especially the clever ending.
    Pipe, fireplace, dog, cabin, vacation, savoring a moment, short story - what a combination of life's pleasures. You really captured what pipe smoking can be: a salve for comfort and healing in hard times, a catalyst for personal reflection and fully feeling one's blessings in a moment of quiet solitude.

    Wishing you peaceful, relaxing puffs,

    p.s. Seems like a trifling thought, but could your composition fit on a tall mug O' Erudite One?

  2. Hi Ken,

    Thanks for the kind words on my little story. Much appreciated.

    It's a bit of a tight fit, but it's now on a coffee mug and some other merchandise at my shop.

    Thanks for the suggestion!

    - Bob

  3. Loved it, especially the clever ending.

  4. You really captured what pipe smoking can be.