Six days into 2021, allow me to be among the last to wish you, happy new year.
I do sincerely wish you a happy year, even if my Wednesday schedule has me a bit belated, and I wish you a safe, healthy, secure, and prosperous year, too.
I’m excited to talk about what I’ve been up to so far early this year, but before I do, I’d like to flashback to one year ago this week, back to January 2, 2020.
January 2, 2020, did not start out as an inauspicious winter Thursday, but there were a lot of weird things that day that felt like bad vibes, in retrospect.
My partner and I had planned on waking up earlier than we normally do in order to put on our ski boots and hit the slopes before it got too crowded. I remember getting geared up to drive the few miles to the ski slopes from her parents’ Poconos cabin. We joke there are more deer than people out here, but I remember being unnerved that day when we saw a group of about five or six deer huddled together like a football huddle on our way to the slopes.
We drove by slowly because it was truly an odd sight. Five or six deer, heads together, appearing to be sharing a secret plot that they didn’t want us to hear. They perked up and looked at us cautiously as our car slowly rolled by them on the side of the road, and they huddled again once we passed them.
I have no earthly idea what stumbling past a group of conniving deer means as an omen, but I’d be hard-pressed to believe it means anything good after what came next. We got to the slopes, got our boots on, and I quickly realized that the ski boots I was wearing were not nearly as well-fitting as they had been when I’d tried them on in the house and walked around in them some.
My feet were cramping before I could even get my feet locked into my skis. It was incredibly painful and frustrating, and I ended up enduring our time on our slopes that day more than I enjoyed it. I had plenty of other fun ski days that winter, but on January 2, 2020, it was clear that it just wasn’t our day.
My partner and I had the house to ourselves that day, and after we had dinner with a family friend that night, we had the whole evening to ourselves, too. I lit a fire in the fireplace, a near-nightly occurrence in the house here. The chimney flue was open and we had burned a creosote sweeping log recently, which is to say, we did not anticipate any problems that night.
That’s why we were so surprised when the room started getting so smoky.
We still don’t know what caused the chimney side of the wall to catch fire.
The insurance adjusters said that they thought that animals had built a nest inside the chimney somehow, clogging it enough for the chimney to get so hot that it set the wall on fire, leaving us no choice but to make a 911 call.
The firefighters said that they truly could not believe that more of the house did not catch fire. The damage was substantial, requiring extensive repairs, but the fire captain in charge of successfully saving the house from going up in flames would not take credit for keeping the damage so relatively isolated. He just said that it was astonishingly lucky that the fire hadn’t spread more.