January 12, 2012
Here's a riddle for you. What's tall as a tree, black as soot, and wears stockings? Your chimney, of course!
And who cleans out all that soot when the fireplace gets dirty? A chimney sweep, and that was the challenge I took on just before the holidays, on the latest "Art, Do My Job!"
Here's my experience, part of which is written loosely to match to the poem, "A Visit from St. Nicholas."
Twas two days before Christmas, when we met at the house.
I ripped a hole in their shirt, and felt like a louse.
"This is supposed to look like this when I finish, not when I start!"
Our Job? Clean the soot from their chimney with care,
in hopes that Saint Nicholas soon would be there.
Little Solomon Fleming, the son of the homeowner, was quite concerned we did a good job.
"Because Santa's coming down the chimney," he said.
I ask, "Is he really? Santa's coming? Is he gonna be able to get down with all those presents and he's big and fat?..
Solomon's wise reply: "Yeah!"
Out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
as we pulled out the Vac and adjusted the ladder.
Page Briggs, a certified chimney sweep from Ja Walker Enterprises, Inc. in Tallahassee said "This is my big hepa filter vac here. This is my R2D2!"
Away to the fireplace we flew like a flash,
tore open the chimney and brushed out the ash.
"Give it a good tap up. It clears debris from the cap, said Page."
The soot, it rained down from the chimney, and soon--
we vacuumed it up and inspected the Flu.
Then it was time for the acid test... a look down the "gun barrel."
The flue looked fine.
Then in a twinkling, we rose in the air,
and spotted a water problem that needed repair.
As Page looked at a puddle of water on the galvanized metal chimney cap, he observed, "we have some rust in the area where it's pooling the most."
My mentor's a pro, maybe a little insane.
But he makes sure your home doesn't go up in flames.
"Yesterday, I saved two houses from burning down, because the chimney flues were disconnected. You get a little reward," says Page.
His boss is a man as jolly as Kris Kringle,
But a trip to the White House gave him quite a tingle!
"We were sweeping and inspecting every chimney in the white house on August 23 at 2 p.m. when a quake hit. The whole building was shaking. I thought maybe the tunnels under the White House were collapsing and the whole building was coming down," says Jay Walker, the owner of Jay Walker Enterprises, Inc.
When you think of a sweep, and a fireplace with stockings,
You want to sing songs from a movie named Poppins!
(Art and sweeps sing Chim chiminey song from Mary Poppins!)
Now our fireplace is done, it's as clean as a whistle,
so we fly from the roof like the down of a thistle.
As we step safely to the ground, Page says "may the sweep's luck be with you."
And I reply, "and with you. You'll be needing it a lot more than me!"
So how did I do, would this job be my last?
Page simply said, "In my book you passed!"