It finally looks a little more like winter with gray skies and bare branches, but this seems like another year without the temperatures to match.
My house is bristling with chimneys so you’d imagine it would be producing curling plumes of wood smoke suitable for a Currier and Ives Christmas Card.
They ring the house like towers on top of a fortress from the Middle Ages. The largest of them corbels out from its base, if I squint it reminds me of the silhouette of the Torre del Mangia in Siena or the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence.
The defending army at these ramparts turns out to be squirrels hurling pecan shells rather than guardsmen flinging boiling oil or rocks. It’s still my castle, just the same.
And there is no smoke pouring forth, because the house doesn’t have a single fireplace. These chimneys once served as the flues for a collection of coal burning stoves, one in the corner of every room. They are all capped with tin hats now, barring the rodent army from the interior of the house.
Shortly after I bought the house I found myself sitting at a desk in the County Tax Appraiser’s Office...