As the Mortar Crumbles

I wrote this a few months ago, when our chimney was rebuilt and renovated.

So today, what has been standing for around ninety years must come down. Last year it was the willow tree, this year the chimney. The cost is about the same. At least the steady ‘chip, chip, chip’ of the chisel isn’t as loud as the chainsaws, but the debris, when it falls, is just as nerve wracking.

Our Victorian house has a steep roof, so the chimney has been one of the tallest in town. And will be again, when it is rebuilt tomorrow or the next day.

The men, all of them craftsmen, take the process for granted. One of them was very reassuring. “Piece of cake.” They’ve done dozens of chimney rebuilds. One was right down the street.

The chimney, over the years has taken a decided lean toward the house. They have been telling me for years, “One good wind…” I occupy my time and allow myself one trip outside to take pictures every hour.

Was it a rainy day like today when the chimney was built? Originally, in 1905 this house had no fireplace. What is now the living room were two bedrooms in the beginning. The original owner died in the house in 1922. It was after that the next owner combined those two smaller rooms into the long living room we have now. The fireplace is centered on the north side. Right where the dividing wall used to be. We see the smaller blocks of wood in the fir flooring that replaced the wall studs, forever reminding us that the wall is gone. We pull the rug back to show guests the scar that tells the stories of the past. Interesting how many changes have been made in 110 years.

But the house quivers as the bricks are carefully pulled out and the crumbly mortar falls. The old bricks will be cleaned and reused. Only small changes will be made in the rebuild. Nice and straight, ready for wind, rain, and the crows that may gather.

Fear not, house.