I don’t think it’s much of a surprise that autumn is my favorite time of year. When September rolls around, I excitedly keep an eye on the weather app on my phone, waiting for the temperatures to start cooling off. I’m not a summer guy at all, and when I’m in the middle of a muggy August, I’m counting the days until I can break out my long sleeved shirts and hoodies and embrace the crisp air of October.
While I’ll be the first to admit I’m not a fan of the sun (other than that it keeps this planet alive, so thanks sun!), I miss having the daylight for a few hours after coming home from work. It’s a bit depressing to be at work, look out a window, and see that it’s pitch black outside. The darkness casts this illusion that makes me feel like I’ve been at work longer than I have, and who wants to feel like that?
Back in October, before the time change occurred, I’d arrive home an hour or two before my wife. This gave me about an hour of daylight to enjoy the sunset all by myself. As I came home one day and looked at the sky, I decided it was the perfect time to enjoy a pipe by the water nearby my house. Normally I have my pipes in my little office out in the garage, so I don’t get to enjoy my pipe out in the open like some pipers do. The weather was cool enough for a flannel shirt, the bugs had all disappeared, and I could sit around for an hour without any sort of responsibilities.
So the next day I came home, changed out of my work clothes, took out the dog, and grabbed the pipe I prepared the day before and headphones. With my assorted pipe tools in my vest pocket, I marched down to the water’s edge, sat down on a bench, and lit my pipe. Once my pipe was nice and going, I leaned back and took in the atmosphere around me.
I decided that I’d unplug myself from technology while I was out there. Other than snapping a quick photo with my camera, I didn’t want anything to distract me other than some Celtic music for ambience. I have an office job, so I sit in front of a computer all day at work. I’m also a writer, so I’m never far from technology’s grasp. Even at home, I’m on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or Reddit, thumbing through pictures and posts. As much as I’m thankful for all of these wonderful tools, a person needs to escape from technology sometimes. I don’t want to be chained to a screen at all times. So into my vest pocket went my iPhone, and I forced my eyes forward to bask in God’s artistry surrounding me.
I’ll admit it wasn’t easy at first. I’d feel my hand reaching for my phone in an absentminded fashion, and I’d have to smack it away with my other, more responsible, hand. This wasn’t the time to check my notifications; this was quiet time, and I had to protect it at all costs.
After a minute or two of phone withdrawls, I settled down and kept my hands busy fiddling with my pipe. I concentrated on puffing on my pipe and looking out at the scenery around me as Celtic music played softly in the background. Soon, technology was the furthest thing from my mind as I gazed out into the water with the sound of bagpipes in the distance.
Even now, a few weeks after I had to stop going out, the images come flooding back to me. The sunburst sky above me, the calm waters below me, countless green trees swaying lazily in the wind, all of it before my screen weary eyes. I could hear the sound of wildlife around me, with chattering squirrels foraging for their winter rations, and birds belting their ballads to one another. Occasionally, a fish leapt out of the water and splashed happily, sending ripples down the channel in its wake. Off in the distance, I spied a great heron perched on a branch, cleaning its plumage and enjoying the last bit of sunlight before darkness settled in for the night.
All of these things I saw as I puffed with contentment on my pipe, sending clouds of Grey Havens down the channel waters. These were moments made for a pipe, just man and nature, with the aroma of earthy pipe tobacco mixing with burning leaves from neighbors. I wondered just how much of life I missed while my eyes were engrossed in a little screen in the palm of my hand. As great as technology is, it can steal so much from us when we’re not careful.
I’m thankful for the time I spent in October sitting in front of nature. I have many memories from where I live, spending summers with family out on the water or looking out on the channel. I took a moment to remember my grandfather, and miss his loving presence in my life. I also thought of my grandmother, and I took a moment to thank God that she is still alive and part of my life. I thanked them for the life they provided to me and my family, as I wouldn’t be here to enjoy this moment without them.
As the last of my tobacco smoldered into ash, I tapped my pipe out and took one last glance out at the setting sun. It’s too easy to take life for granted and to fall into a routine of day-to-day life. So much of my life is spent trying to write and to make something of myself that I can just let the world pass me by. My pipe time by the channel reminded me that there’s more to this world than just trying to make a name for myself. A man needs to admire the world around him and fill his mind with the sights, smells, and sounds around him.
Until next time my friends, I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Take the time to enjoy what’s around you, and make memories that last a lifetime.