Tobacco

In reading others’ blog entries this week, I am immediately intrigued too by MAR’s commentary on smoking in his first place entry. Perhaps it’s the reformed smoker in me that relates to these ideas. I remember thinking about this issue often while in Sequoia National Park: sitting on the side of a trail during a long hike and taking a smoke break, being far into the backcountry away from all other humans and smoking around camp at night, climbing a mountain with a pack of cigarettes easily-accessible in my pack. Tobacco was a huge part of my life there, then, as it was for everyone I knew. And I remember thinking so many times how its very existence seemed in conflict with my that place and that very life. How hypocritcal I felt.

It makes me think about that question of “natural” vs “unnatural” – is smoking a natural behavior? Is there some contradiction in the idea of being in a natural place while doing it? Tobacco also grows, much like the dormant plants in the community garden that MAR describes, so that should mean it’s inherently a natural process. But at the same time, there feels, intuitively, like something unnatural in it.

And while I’m four years reformed – now it’s so hard to even imagine that I was ever a smoker in the first place – this entry made me want to know more about the whole aspect of tobacco growing, the history and culture and myth. These are facts I should know, living now in a state where the primary revenue source is tobacco. A state where it’s really a whole way of life. I’ve been given much to meditate on further!

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One thought on “Tobacco

  1. I grew up in Kentucky, also a tobacco state and spent my childhood and youth planting, raising and harvesting tobacco every year. My final project for last semester's Travel Writing course was an essay called “Tobacco Stains.” If you think others might be interested, I could email it. It is rather personal so I'm not sure I'm ready to post it on my public blog! For many decades, tobacco ruled in so many of the southern states. For us it was a way of life and a steady income that supported the rest of our farm.

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