I can not believe it is almost a year ago that the Chimney Sweeps came by last time. This morning they payed me their yearly visit and cleaned and inspected my chimney, making my fireplace ready for another year of fire burning.
I find myself completely fascinated by these men in their dashing black uniforms. To me it is almost like being transported back in time, as very little or almost nothing has changed about them through out history. They still wear black, they climb roofs and use similar instruments to clean the chimneys, with perhaps an exception of a powered vacuum cleaner. What strikes me about them today is their happiness. Incredible joy in their smiling faces, that is so rarely encountered these days. They were laughing, while soot was soiling their hands, exposing their white teeth in broad smiles in such a contrast to their ashy cheeks, while they kept telling me about their craft and how much they enjoy being outside at all times of the year. In return I think they relished my fascination with their profession and I made sure to touch the buttons of their uniform this time around, something that I forgot to do last year; in my culture this brings good luck.
The demand for Chimney Sweeps has been in decline over the last few decades, but interestingly, it is rising again. This might be due to many reasons; the financial crises being one of them, thus wood burning fireplaces and furnaces becoming an alternative heat source.
However, I'd like to believe that we are perhaps also trying to return to a simpler way of life. In today's world, when technology changes every second, bringing advances each day, our reality feels at times overwhelming, leaving us disconcerted and confused, perhaps even anxious and tired. Therefore it is comforting to occasionally return to something very familiar and basic, such as the simple act of lighting a fire in a fireplace.
Fire equals life and already the primitive man regarded it as a divine gift. Today, watching the flickering of flames can be instrumental in bringing us back to times of campfires, when we felt unified and safe and the connection with nature was ever so palpable.