If I were to list personal items that contributed to making the 1971 University of St. Andrews Greenland Expedition an enjoyable experience I would have to include my tobacco pipe. It had a number of functions.
I lit up the pipe when, having mislaid the mesh shopping bag that served as the mosquito net for my head, I was driven bonkers by the biting ‘bugs’. The smoke was not a perfect mosquito/black fly repellant but it did help. The ritual of cleaning, filling, tamping and lighting the pipe served as a distraction from a stressful thought or situation and seldom failed to relax my mind and body. Smoking, especially in the company of other pipe smokers, created an aromatic atmosphere that induced contentment and fostered camaraderie.
While I was in Greenland my fiancée, now my wife gifted me a supply of my favourite fragrant tobacco (Holland House) and new pipe (a Dr. Plumb) for my birthday. I immediately discarded my father’s hand-me-down briar and adopted this new pipe and I swear my feeling of contentment increased! A little more than a decade later that same woman aided and abetted our children, who had learned of the horrible consequences of smoking tobacco, to hide my pipes and tobacco. No amount of intimidation could persuade them to return my pipes. I soon learned to do without and I am grateful for that.
I will never smoke again but I am filled with nostalgia when I recall the tranquility and satisfaction I experienced while I puffed on my pipe and listened to my fellow expedition members tell tall tales about their exploits on the peaks and fjords of the Tasermiut region of south west Greenland.