Thursday, January 27, 2005

When You're With a Sweep . . .

I had my chimney swept today by a skinny man with a smile like Dick Van Dyke's. His cheeks were covered with gray soot. I think he might have rubbed it on right before he rang my doorbell. He came right in and set to work. He spread a sheet in front of my fireplace and removed the screen as if it were a rare painting. He cleaned out the ashes with an industrial vacuum and then opened his tool box full of brushes. One brush looked like the wooden type you might buy to scrape snow off your car. Another broke into three parts and had bristles that looked like a spikey Cher haircut. It disappeared up the chimney one inch at a time. At the bottom of the tool box was an improbably gold shovel. It flashed at me from the nineteenth century, caught me marveling at its owner. Then, as quickly as he arrived, my sweep left. He folded up his tools, tipped his hat, and disappeared over the roof tops of Old Town. I completely forgot to shake his hand.

No comments: