I am not usually on the roof in December (12/29/10)
Or January or February*, but today I was. I had swept part of the roof before the first big storm came in, but didn't finish because the rain started. And I didn't have a metal brush up there with me to clear out the screen in the chimney cap.
Yesterday, the wood stove started smoking dreadfully; I had to lock cats in the kitchen or outside in the rain, wherever they were, open all the windows wide and close the doors. It was so smoky I couldn't even go back in there.
The large piece of wood I'd put in smouldered all night, and was still there at noon, today, still warm, although it wasn't smoking anymore.
So I swept my way up onto the roof - this sloping roof on the North side is the access route. Since Mom had the roof taken off the stairs, I hadn't been up there, except the once last fall. It feels kind of steep, without anything to catch myself on... But it wasn't really wet, despite all the rain last night.
After I had used the metal brush on the screen in the chimney cap, and was spending some time doing some more sweeping, the chimney started to smoke a lot. Apparently when it had a draft, the fire started burning more again.
It started to snow a little, just at sunset - glad I got the chimney clear enough for a fire.
It is supposed to start snowing again tonight or tomorrow. Feb. 16, 2011
* The Ectoplasm Incident
Once, years ago, in February, the tenants were complaining that their chimney was smoking.
The chimney sweep had the flu, and I had reason to believe that the blockage was at the chimney cap:
During the night, when I had not been using the wood stove, a long streamer of smoke came out of the stove and traveled horizontally across the room to exit at a slightly open window. The flues only connect up at the cap, under the screen.
And thinking of those complicated Victorian chimneys, which climbing boys were sent up to sweep, I thought an experience of something like that might have originated the concept of ectoplasm.
So I was up on the roof, on a sunny day in February, and from 3 stories up, I could smell the old-fashioned violets in the lawn, strong as wine.
And in the chimney cap, there were a few leaves on the screen, and there was also a small round dented area, just about small-cat size - and I realized why my little shiny white and gray cat, Fussy, had a few days ago, suddenly been all gray...