Photo Credit: Piper Jackson
“Places, like people, are complex, and loving them isn’t simple.” –Kate Milford
Photo Credit: Piper Jackson

We were hoping for a miracle today with the arrival of the chimney expert. I was already dreaming of a fire burning softly in the old wood stove again, my warm office space upstairs. Of coming back down the driveway from my evening walks to the familiar sight and smell of smoke rising from the chimney. But alas, the chimney must be completely rebuilt from the ground up to be safe and usable. Rebuilt from a foundation. There is no foundation under this log cabin. It was built in 1900 on a big rock. A hunting lodge. Sometime after moving in, in 1937, Grandpa Gideon and his boys built the fireplace and chimney with the beautiful stones they handpicked and carried up from the lake. That was probably eighty years ago. The inspection reveals that those stones now sit tight against each other, mortar long since disintegrated.

It’s not a surprise. My guy has been watching the crumbling over the years, fingering the powdery mortar, picking up the fallen rocks from the path running alongside the cabin, glad that the grandkids who raced along there each summer are now teens or young adults. We knew it wasn’t something that could be fixed with patching here and there, but we were hoping for reassurance that a new liner might be enough to solve the problem.

The gentleman doing the inspection is almost too tall for the main room of this cabin, like a lot of our guys, dipping under the doorways. He’s worked on these kinds of old places before. He crouches in the fireplace taking videos of the inside, digs out the snow to inspect the base of the chimney outside, climbs his ladder to look down through the top. In the end, he cleans and seals it up, and moves the stove back into place for us, no small task in itself. I remember Grandma Edna remarking about the neighbor who’d just brought her a fresh-plucked goose for her Christmas dinner, “What a lovely man!” and thinking it an odd, old-fashioned descriptive for a man . . . but actually, I have that same thought today as this man works diligently to leave us in a good space.

I close the doors to the extra rooms upstairs since our weekend visitors have returned home. Less space to heat. Set the radiant heater near my table at the top of the stairs, a blanket over my lap, and adjust my attitude. I am comfortable. I make a cup of lemon ginger tea and count my blessings. The solutions will come later.

2 thoughts on “Old places

  1. I confess I don’t know much about chimneys, but a solution will reveal itself. Maybe with the Spring thaw……. We actually have a fireplace and the chimney is not in the best condition, so since we are in South Florida, and don’t need it for heat, we opted to have it sealed. I love your attitude. Stay warm, stay safe, Spring is coming.

    Liked by 1 person

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