Wednesday, June 29, 2005

My Guardian Angel Smokes Borkum Riff

Today tastes like vanilla, cream, honey, and bourbon. And oddly enough, it smells like Grandfather’s tobacco.

I drive a convertible (in Arizona, eleven months of the year are topless weather, after all) and I finally understand the attraction for a dog when it comes to hanging its head out the window, ears flapping in the breeze, eyes slitted and nose pointed into the wind. If I lived through my nose, I’d be too distracted to drive. As it is, it’s great fun in orange blossom season.

Not so much fun driving past the cemetery. I can tell when it’s a “burn day.” And sometimes when I’m really hungry, it’s hard to tell the difference between that and the barbeque joint a few blocks away. My own personal Stephen King moment.

Right now though, we are paying the price for a warm wet spring with lots of lush plant growth with the inevitable summer wildfires. Mummy Mountain, in the heart of Phoenix, is burning from a lightning strike, and the streets look like San Francisco. I can barely see the purple hulk of Camelback Mountain, three miles away as I write this. It looks like a watercolor of a mountain—a sharp purple outline at the top, and then melty shades of purple, with soft trickles of dark veining and little pops of highlighting instead of the rich tight detailed crevices and sharp texture I can usually see.

So yes, while I understand that what I was smelling was a combination of burnt plant material, the mélange of perfumes from shampoo, deodorant, and cologne (oderant??), and hydrocarbons; it still combined in a sweetly nostalgic form that was like having my guardian angel riding shotgun on the way in to the city, bopping along to the alien surf music that is Blue Man Group and Logictrance.


iamjan said...

I have no idea what "Borkum Riff" is, I missing something?

Loved your description of Phoenix doing penance - you have a gift. Keep writing.

Yahoo Groupie: Clothpaperstudio

Spike said...

"Borkum Riff" is a brand of pipe tobacco--Grandfather's favorite and only.

When he died, Mother tok me and my brother aside and asked if there was any small memento we wanted as a keepsake right now. The "good" wordly goods would be divided later by the rest of the children (Grandfather had 5 and is survived by 3) but if we had trinkets in mind, now would be the time to speak up and claim them.

As one, my brother and I said "tobacco pouches", and I laid dibs to the nearly empty sack with the brand name--so I could find it at the local tobacconist's.

We both associated Grandfather with his omnipresent pipe, perfuming the air with sticky silver incense, pausing in conversation to re-light, or clean, or any of the million little rituals that keep a pipe-smoker's hands busy while he catches the train of his thought.