Anecdotal Evidence .

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Where There's Smoke ...

One of the most daunting tasks associated with building our house in Maine was construction of the chimney. Because the house was to be heated solely with wood, the chimney was an important, perhaps the most important, aspect of the project.

Neither of us had ever done any masonry before - indeed, we had virtually no experience in any of the skills associated with building a house (I used to joke that the only carpentry experience I brought to the undertaking was sharpening pencils), so it was all learning by doing.

And in some areas it showed. Thus, once completed, the chimney had a little bit of a swayback to it, which concerned us.

Later, during our first winter in the house, we expressed our discomfort over the chimney to a neighbor, a longtime Mainer, who, on observing it, first from the front, then from the side, agreed that it wasn't exactly plumb. Then, he added, interrupting our lament, "Does it draw smoke, as you intended it to do?"

"Why, yes," we answered, "it draws smoke perfectly."

"In that case," he wondered, "what's the problem?"

Among the many things we have learned living in the Maine woods is that appearances reveal little and matter less.