travelling around Caelereth one may often
encounter Pipe Moss, as it grows lavishly in the forests inhabited by the
Gnorian Gnomes. The
gnomes make a good profit from this plant, as
they have learned how to age and treat the moss into a product they call "Pipe
Weed" which can be smoked. Pipe Moss therefore is also often refered to as
Gnomes are the only mass producers of Pipe Moss; their gnomish fertilizing techniques let them grow wide-spread, rich patches of this plant. It is enjoyed by anyone who is able to afford the purchase price, which is on the average a hefty one Su for a package weighing one scup.
It should be noted here that there is a competition in the smoker's market, as there is a common desert weed known as Vhin or Smokeweed which also can be used to fill a pipe. Though Smokeweed can't achieve the same flavor as the Gnorian Gnomes produce in their Pipeweed, it is a less expensive product, and many people who can't afford the moss will buy Vhin instead.
Appearance. Pipe Moss grows in different colors depending on the environment with which the gnomes have provided it. If grown in a damp, shady place it becomes a bluish-green color. If grown in a area where it is dry and where the sun is visible and the moss is able to baste in its rays, it obtains a yellow color. If the moss is grown in a area where both shade and sun pass over it during the course of the day then it obtains a rich green color.
The moss itself grows in small patches of delicate thread-like strands that twine around each other making a thick, soft layer, roughly 2 nailsbreadths high. It usually grows near the bases of trees, and spreads out to cover the forest ground. Each strand has a hair-like root, a greenish, tangled stem, and a barely perceptible finial shaped like a cup at its very tip. This cupshape will flush bright yellow when the moss flowers in the fall, but has no effect on the finished product's taste or appearance.
Territory. Pipe Moss usually grows in the forests inhabited by the Gnorian Gnomes, respectively in the east coast of the Santharian peninsula from above the Istarin Forest to just below the river and city of Yorrick. Gnorian inhabited territory also stretches as far in land as the Paelelon. The gnomes within these forests in this region are the main producers of Pipe Weed. Although the moss has been grown by human farmers outside of these forests as well, the end result is always unsatisfactory, being a weak and flavourless product.
|Image description. A hobbit with his pipe smoking some pipeweed. Picture drawn by Arbaon.|
The Pipe Moss is grown only for what it is processed into, being
Gnomes harvest the moss in
the time of the Fallen Leaf, (Styrásh:
chúh'querín). They have carefully calculated
what percentage of the moss they need to leave so that it will grow and spread
out again as before in the next harvest season.
Once harvested the moss is taken to be dried within their villages. During this process the moss loses about one tenth of its original weight and size. Once the moss is dried it is tossed and picked through to remove any items that may be undesirable, like insects, twigs, and dirt, then left to "cure" for a further drying period.
Once Pipe Moss has been cured it comes to the point in its development where it is flavored. The flavoring process is shrouded in secrecy, as it is such an important part of the finished product's taste and enjoyability. Once flavored it is shredded so it may be smoked. When shredded the Pipeweed is packed in small bags made of treated leather from various forest creatures and is tied with a thin leather string. Then the leather packages are stamped with a hot brand bearing the Pipeweed's grade. These are the grades, from finest to least expensive, given to the pipe weed produced and sold by the Gnorian Gnomes:
The finest type of pipe weed available. Smooth, with a rich oaky flavor and a mellow aftertaste.
Strong and aggressive, with a heavy blue smoke and a slightly 'dark' nose. Currently in fashion with the nobles, although not the most sophisticated of grades.
Light and refreshing, with overtones of wine and burnt willow. A good farmer's smoke.
An inexpensive, loosely-dried Pipeweed. Flavor of earth, brandy, old cheese.
The plant spreads and reproduces itself through underground root systems and
aboveground sporing, like most mosses. But simply making more moss is not the
secret to creating successful pipeweed... As almost all Pipe Moss is grown by
and human farmers have not been able to
produce quality Pipeweed from their patches of the plant, little is actually
known about what growing conditions the Pipe Moss prefers. The method the
gnomes use for improving the quality of their
moss is kept a strict secret. Rumor has it, though, that the secret is a special
Myth/Lore. Some healers say that Pipeweed has ill effects on certain races but not on others. It is said that humans become addicted to Pipeweed's rich flavor. Some noted side effects in humans is that they develop shortness of breath and dry hacking coughs. Smokers of Pipeweed strongly disagree that the plant is the cause of their ailment, but would gladly trade shortened lifespans for the enjoyment their pipe gives them, if such a cause-and-effect could ever be demonstrated...
Dwarves, though, seem to be immune to these symptoms, no matter how much they inhale. They claim that Pipeweed is a gift from Trum-Barol Himself (as they seem to claim for every benefit and pleasure they enjoy) and in fact that the moss sprang up from sparks that flew off His forge while He was smithing His first tools...
A little ditty that is often sung in peasant taverns proclaims the joy of the pipe, comparing it to other pleasures:
men say that ale's their vice,
And some will say a lass,
While others at the table sit
And eat their victuals fast,
Some say to lie in bed all day,
And some to tell a joke,
Some men to brawling are inclined...
But just give me a smoke!
Fill the pipe, my jolly lads,
Oh fill and tamp it down!
Give here one coal to light the moss,
I'm the blithest man in town!"
Information provided by Gararion