Sunday, October 21, 2012

Cabin Life: Sweeping the Chimney

The nights are longer and cooler and the daily high temperatures are lower than the summer lows.  I’m glad for the solar lights strung around the cabin.  They cast a pleasant blueish glow without being blinding.  Wearing a headlamp literally all time last winter really got old, and it’s nice to be able to see without one.  Now I can find my glass of Maker’s Mark without burning batteries.

Ed got another mouse last night.  He can never get them during normal waking hours, only in the middle of the night.  So, after work, I didn’t do anything that could be called “chores” or “work” or anything like that.  I sat on the boulder that serves as my front step and played guitar.  I let all the animals out to enjoy the warmth of the afternoon sun.  Pico ate grass and layed around, Ed went out hunting, and Herbie was somewhere doing whatever it is fat cats do.

Soaking up what may be the last of the warm days for the year is as precious to me as almost anything else.  I like every aspect of fall, especially those little nuggets of warmth and sunshine that make random appearances throughout the season.  But they also remind me that the time for getting the cabin totally ready for winter is at hand.  Firewood is going into the shed, the lights are strung up and the chimney is cleaned and ready to go.  It’s gotten pretty cold on a few nights, but I needed to get a new chimney brush and clean it before getting a fire going.

Cleaning the chimney is hands down my least favorite activity that living out here requires.  I don’t mind walking to the outhouse or having to haul jugs of water in.  But I really dislike cleaning the chimney.  I’m not afraid of heights, but I’m also not a fan.  The roof isn’t very high or steep, but climbing up there is always an annoyance.  And of course, I inevitably forget something down on the ground, so it’s never just a one climb chore.

Then, once I’m up there, the process of actually sweeping the chimney begins.  Handling the two sections of fiberglass pole that wave twelve feet in the air above my head is not hard, but also not pleasant.  I shove the brush end down until it’s inside the woodstove, then pull it all the way back out.   Even though it’s not a long chimney, I usually break a sweat doing this process three or four times.  And on top of all this, Pico is on the ground barking at me and trying to climb the ladder.  If he ever figures it out, I’m going to be in real trouble.

But I think I’m lucky in that the chimney is the only chore I really despise doing.  Checking on the Upper Camp and clearing the trails gives me a lot of satisfaction, plus Pico can come along on those treks.  I like living out here.  And I do like that I have to work at it.

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Having grown up in the southern Adirondacks, Justin has always been at home in the mountains of New York. After graduating from Paul Smiths College, he began his career in the environmental field working for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. After a brief five year detour to Florida, Justin returned to the Adirondacks to live off the grid in a small cabin with no running water or electricity.

Justin continues to work and play in the outdoors, and maintains a blog about living off grid, hiking, and being outside in the Adirondacks called Middle of the Trail.

3 Responses

  1. Debra says:

    Really enjoy following “your story,” Justin. Your writing is genuine, interesting, and revealing.

  2. joan streetman says:


  3. Ann says:

    Thanks for writing out what is probably a dream for some of us and letting us live it along with you. I enjoy your postings, reminds me of camp chores that filled my days – thanks for being a 21st century pioneer in the greatest place in the world “ADK’s!

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