Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Do you ever notice chimneys? I walk every day and sometimes, especially in the winter, I do.

Here in the North, when the chimney smoke is horizontal it's likely cold, very cold. Sometimes it's so cold the chimney smoke sinks, or seems to. Most of the year though, I don't notice. But I think children do.

Remember all the drawings you made when you were a kid? Like most kids I'm sure, there was often a chimney with smoke arising. This might be somewhat particular to northern climates but I would guess that one could pick any generation of kids and many of them drew their homes with smoke wafting from the chimney in a sort of pig's tail curlicue. And if the smoke wasn't rising there was likely still a chimney detail.

For me, this added detail speaks loudly. Drawn by a child, a house with a chimney signifies warmth inside. More than shelter, a sign of security, a refuge from a world still so huge, and cold and somehow unfathomable, but yet not, because one's neighbourhood was profound enough back then. A house with a chimney says there's a warm place for everyone. And there should be. If only.

It's Robbie Burns Day. I offer you this traditional Scottish blessing: "Lang may your lum reek." Long may your chimney smoke. And mine too.


Laoch of Chicago said...

You should celebrate Robert Burns day with a nice big hearty bowl of haggis!

dbs said...

Other than fish, I rarely eat meat but I would make an exception for haggis. However, the only haggis I've found is canned haggis and that's just too repulsive to even contemplate let alone eat.

Alittlesprite said...

Even here in Australia when we get NO snow at all (except for parts down south) children draw chimmneys on the houses. I know I used to. Nice post :)
Canned haggis? that is wrong on so many levels.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

Every kid knows that a house needs a chimney because how else could Santa get in on Christmas Eve? Sheesh, adults are so dumb.

dbs said...

@alittlesprite Cool. Thanks for letting me know.
@DSWS I thought about including that. But Santa irritates me. Just sayin.

Artist and Geek said...

Haggis? I just lost my sense of smell again.

jono said...

You have a such a gift for pointing out the obvious. But it's the obvious I have managed to miss. Of course all my houses had chimneys with smoke. Along with a door in the middle and a window at each corner. I'd completely forgotten.

I can't speak for Alberta of course but here chimneys are rarely used now in the cities. Gas central heating is the norm. But in my youth, open fires, soot and smogs were everyday life. I don't think there are many things nicer than a log fire.

Al Penwasser said...

Whaddya mean, drawing as a kid? That one looks like something I STILL draw!
As far as Robbie Burns.....when I was stationed with the Navy in Iceland, there was a tradition called "Burns Night." During Burns Night, a squadron from Kinloss, Scotland (and sometimes one from Canada) flew to Iceland for a party celebrating the wee (or maybe not-so-wee...has anyone asked Mrs. Burns?) poet. There was much (much!) Scotch to be had, bagpipes, and-for some strange reason-burning of a Viking ship mock-up (in the parking lot-safety first!!).
We also had a ceremony where a kilt-wearing Scottish officer served haggis. I actually kinda liked it.
Good times. Too bad the base in Iceland is now closed.

Al Penwasser said...

Wait a minute-I just read your comment. CANNED haggis!? Good God, mon (Scottish accent, please), ya canna poot sheep goots in a con un ixpect ut to bee enny goot! Are ye daft?

baygirl32 said...

nothing like the smell of a wood fire on a cold day it there

Dr. Cynicism said...

Another chimney-related sensation that shoves me into the arms of winter is the smell - that awesome scent of burning wood that fills the winter nights. Mmmmmm.

Kev D. said...

I never understood how houses without one got presents at Christmas time.

For the record, I always had more of a puffy cloud kind of smoke in my drawings than the curly pig tail type.

I also hated 'm' birds.

Vinny C said...

In my part of the world, we have two seasons: hot & really-freakin'-hot. As a result, chimneys aren't a part of houses or childhood imagination. There's always a big, bright yellow sun in the sky, though. I guess you could say that this is what children here use as their symbol.

paulsifer42 said...

Thank you, and your chimney aswell. I've thought lately about seperated we all are in our community, and how sad that is. And I'd never noticed that kids don't seem to feel that (as shown in their drawings). I really think we can learn so much from them.

Nicole said...

What a poignant post. I love it.

Didactic Pirate said...

A very cozy post. This made me want to climb up on the roof and hug our chimney. Which we never use, because, well, Southern California and all.

Still. Now I want to make a fire.

Alistair said...

Happy Burns Day!!!

ps Al P {in a Scots accent} Gaunny no dae that!!!


dbs said...

@A&G I'm still making you sick? Sorry 'bout that.
@Jono Thank you. I'm glad I brought back a good memory.
@AlP Scottish partying in Iceland sounds like #1 on my bucket list! And as fer cunned haggis, I agrrrrrrree. And did you see what Alistair wrote? He's a real Scot.
@baygirl & DrC Tis nice, especially when it's cold.
@KevD I agree about 'm' birds; those aren't birds, they're 'm's.
@VinnyC Cool. That makes a lot of sense.
@paul No, thank you. And yup. There's much to learn from kids. Yours (on the way) will be your greatest teacher.
@Nicole Thank you guide blogger.
@DP Thank you guide blogger too. Two guide bloggers in a row. Awesome.
@Alistair Thank you! And I hope Al P got your message. I thank you for it too because I'm committing it to memory so I can teach it to my kids! (I googled the meaning and I can use that a lot on my kids, believe me.)

Artist and Geek said...

Guide blogs don't make me sick, but haggis distracted me.
Chimney on a slanted roof, the sun in one corner, a tree next to the house and family members enjoying the outdoors. Silhouettes of birds in the sky. Sound familiar?

Daisy said...

No more teachers, no more books
No more chimneys with wafty smoke

I work in heating/cooling industry.. so chimneys now mean something a little different than those childhood days.

All new homes being built no longer have chimneys (since heating systems are now high efficiency and vent out the sidewall vs through the chimney). Darn. Let's forget that altogether and draw those great houses again, shall we?


Alistair said...

then to help you practice and get the depth of meaning......


enjoy but not necessarily all at the one time

Kev D. said...

Hey dude, I done gave you an award. You can read about it here:

Feel free to follow the rules, or not follow the rules. Don't matter to me either way, just wanted you to know about it.

Rachael said...

Hello. I found your blog because you followed me on Twitter and I was seduced by your description of yourself. Anyway, I digress (although I am rather disappointed by the lack of photographic evidence, for those of us who like a bit of hot fat guy blog action) - just wanted to wish you a happy belated Burns Night, from a Scot currently living in a haggis free desert (England).

Roxanne and Lorraine said...

I've lived in South Florida most of my life, which means that we never, ever get snow. No chimeneys.

However! My houses always had a chimeney with a pig's tail smoke. But there was also a bright sun. And "m" birds.

Obviously I was just an overachiever.


Penny Lane said...

My drawings never had chimneys because I never had a chimney growing up (or now) and I was always bitter about it.

dbs said...

@A&G Haggis can do that, and exactly.
@Daisy I like your wanton nostalgia. (I can relate.)
@Alistair Love this. Love this so much!
@KevD Dude. Thank you. I will check it out soon.
@Rachel Photos coming soonish. I enjoyed your haggis free comment. Please come back and visit again.
@Lorraine No apology necessary. And thank you for visiting.
@PennyLane You must live somewhere warm, or perhaps you are incarcerated? That's definitely a reason to be bitter. I don't blame you.

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