September 30, 2009

Time For Chimney Sweeping.

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.

23 comments:

Reasons to be Cheerful 1,2,3 said...

You touched their buttons eh?

Lovely post Zuzana. x

Gal Friday said...

I remember seeing chimney sweeps like these men on bicycles when I was in Berlin, and it makes me happy to see that profession is still there in Denmark, and still much the same(with the addition of a turbo vacuume, I see!)
Keeping chimneys clean is very important, and the chimney sweep's job is important! My husband worked for some time as an assisitant to a chimney sweep and now is the one to do the yearly(probaly in October)chimney cleaning, but sadly, he doesn't wear such a nostalgic uniform as your own sweeps. :-)

Betsy said...

Aren't they cute! It's the hat that is intriguing me! I've never seen any man wear a top hat like that in any profession! They look happy indeed! :)

Keith said...

This was such a cool post. I've never seen a chimney sweep before. I always thought they were so amazing. It seemed like such an interesting job. Glad to see that they are happy and enjoy what they do. That's so important in life.

Michelle H. said...

This is a first at seeing a chimney sweep. They look awesome in their clothes! Thanks for this post!

Julie Hibbard said...

I would have been singing "Chim Chimney, Chim Chimney Chim Chim Cheeree..."
the whole time they were there...
So fun!!!

Blog Princess G said...

I had no idea that chimney sweeps still wore such charmingly old-fashioned touches. How wonderful! I love this post! And you're so right - their faces radiate happiness. Of course I'm sure having such a lovely client helps. :)

Claus said...

What a charming picture! and the hat even makes you think of those classic novels and stories of Dickens, wouldn't you agree?
Chimneys are not all that common in the average Guatemalan home. With the average temperature year round, it would be a crime! Too hot! Nevertheless, the fancy homes of the rich do have one, even two chimneys. I wonder if they light them at some point, of it they are strictly decoration, following foreign styles?

swenglishexpat said...

It's like something out of an H.C. Andersen novel! Or perhaps Dickens, but I hope they did not use a small boy to go down the chimney to do the really dirty work! ;-)

But like you said, great that there still are people doing this job, and in uniform! Wink, wink!

Jill said...

I am in awe of this post! There are STILL chimney sweeps that dress in this charming manner? I just LOVE it!! And, I have never heard of touching their buttons for good luck...what FUN!

Which leads me into song:
"Chim Chiminey, Chim Chiminey, Chim Chim Cheree, A sweep is as lucky as lucky can be!
...When you're with a sweep you're in glad company!"
LOVE MARY POPPINS too!

Scribe816 said...

Your word and your photo’s have a way of transporting me. As I read this posting I couldn’t help but think of “Mary Poppins.” With Dick Van Dyke as the chimney sweep and his friends dancing on the roof. Your writing has a certain magic to it. In this day and age of high tech, it’s very refreshing.

Helen McGinn said...

Dang, Julie Hibbard bet me to it. Chim chimanee, chim chimanee chim chim charee.....How lovely. x

Doreen said...

that's a lot of buttons to push...... or I mean touch. :-)

I love that they dress the part. very important job they have also. great post!!

steviewren said...

Wonderful post today! Could I get their phone numbers? My chimney is in dire need of cleaning and I have no idea if there is such a thing here. I haven't built a fire in the fireplace in years.

Love the picture of rubbing buttons for luck...is it anyone's buttons or only the chimney sweep?

As to the joke in the picture on my blog. I thought it was funny because a preacher at a revival might preach a message about the fires of hell...extreme fireworks. It struck me as funny that the same building is being used for both purposes.

sprinkles said...

I wonder if there are chimney sweepers in the US still? Probably so. My dad always cleaned out the fireplace when I was a kid.

That's interesting about touching the buttons being good luck.

Protege said...

=Joanne,
yes I did, hehe.:P:P I realized after reading stevie's comment below that "rubbing" is a better choice of words.;) I felt something was off, but could not really find the right expression.;)But at least it makes for a good laugh, right.;))
Always so happy to see you stop by, glad you enjoyed this post.;) xoxo

=Tina,
yes, yes, indeed, P said he also remember them from his time in Germany on bicycles.;)
How extraordinary that your husband cleans chimneys, or know how too, I am impressed!
It is always good to have a handy man around;) xo

=Keith,
glad you like this post; yes, they are still around, most likely in the US as well but probably not wearing any uniforms, that is why they are not so obvious.
Your visits are always very appreciated.;)

=Michelle,
thank you - glad you too find them dashing.;) So glad you stopped by.;) xo

=Julie,
I need to find that song, I am so not familiar with it and it was brought up in the comments last year as well.;))
xoxo

=BPG,
thank you and I agree, I too was so amazed that they could have fit in at any time in history.;))
Your comments always warm my heart.;)
xo

=Claudia,
you always say the best things.;) So, it never gets cold enough for a fire? Even here far down in southern Europe houses have fireplaces as the only means of heat for those few cold winter days (and nights).;) I guess that is the only advantage the winter brings here; the cosy evening in front of the fire.;))
xoxo

=swenglishexpat,
yes, they are like taken out of those books.;) And I do have a soft spot for men in uniforms; wink, wink back.;) Hehe.;)

=Jill,
yes, isn't it amazing? I am so glad you too find this intriguing and fun. I am not familiar with that song, perhaps I should learn it for next time and sing it to them.;)) xo

=Scribe816,
you are always so kind in your comments, I always enjoy reading them. I am very happy -and flattered- that you find all that in my words.;))

=Helen,
it seems that many here get the same song come up in their minds.;)) Glad to see you stopping by.;) xo

=Doreen,
right, many buttons to touch, push and rub.;))
Yes, aren't they just dashing?;) Thank you so much for your kind words.;)
xoxo

=stevie,
thank you for elucidating the right term of "rubbing" the buttons.;))
Oh, I am sure that chimney sweeps do still exist. Try to look them up in the phone book.;) Wouldn't it be great if you could use your fireplace again?;) Of course, I can always ask the ones here if they feel like coming by, but it might cost you, in regards to traveling time.:P
I thought that was it with the picture joke on your page, but I was not sure.;)) I am bit slow.;))
xoxo

=sprinkles,
glad you enjoyed this post, thank you. I am sure they still exist in the US, but perhaps not wearing such dashing uniforms.;)) xoxo

Sumandebray said...

This is something that is not a common thing in our part of the world.We are not used to rituals that goes along. The closest I have been to a fireplace is an artificial one which only simulates a real on.
Fire .... yes I think .. being able to ignite a fire is one single knowledge that took mankind forward leaving behind the fellow beings in this world!
Thankyou for your comments

Rosezilla said...

What a charming post! I too thought of Disney's "Mary Poppins" and the song the chimney sweeps sang. Also Dickens stories. I love fires, and when we camped we always had campfires. So I was thrilled when we moved in to this house and it had a fireplace. But we would have to even turn on the air conditioner sometimes to make it cool enough for a fire, plus we didn't know who to call to have it cleaned. We actually ended up taking it out and extending the kitchen counters. A travesty, I suppose! But it was great while it lasted.

Poetikat said...

How cool is that? It's like being transported back to Victorian times! We have a cast-iron gas stove, but we need to have our chimney repaired nonetheless.

Jacki said...

We did not have such a good experience with our chimney sweep here in the US! Two years ago we were living in a house that had a fireplace, so we decided to use it. So the landlord called out a company to clean the chimney, and it was very dirty, I guess. They did not put cloths or anything down on the floors or furniture, and our entire living room was covered in black soot. It took me nearly an entire day cleaning and mopping.

I was mad!

I second a return to a simpler life. :-)

Protege said...

=Sumandebray,
yes, my sentiments exactly, fire is a vital part in our history.;) yes, the differences between our climate makes fireplaces in your part of the world quiet obsolete.;))

=Rosezilla,
what a great story; sorry about the fireplace.;) Hilarious that you had to turn on the AC to endure the heat.;)) Still, I envy you your sun and tropical climate, particularly as autumn have truly arrived here.;)
xo

=Jacki,
that must have been awful! They seem very unprofessional. They should have realized that perhaps the amount of soot and ashes was overwhelming. Sorry about such a bad experience with the sweeps, hope you could at least enjoy mine.;)) xoxo

Hilary said...

Oh this is so cool! I love that you took a photo of them and that you remembered to touch their buttons for good luck. What a fun post. :)

Protege said...

=Hilary,
yes they were laughing and thought it was great I took such a genuine interest in their profession.;) Glad you liked this.;) xo