January 18, 2003

Winter Comes in from the Cold

Somehow the usual feedback of early-morning contact with keyboard, coffee cup and computer just is not bringing forth the usual stream of mental images and random paragraphs I expect to meet here. Maybe it is the parka and toboggan I'm wearing this morning. Takes so little to smother the tiny little muse with a pillow these days.

Its the heavy coat I wear as I sit here today, but the tactile dysesthesia of cold numb fingers plays no small part in shorting the circuit of thought to words, and I sit here lumpish on the coldest morning of the year. Five degrees above outside. Warmer than that in here by fifty degrees, and still it seems cold to a confessing homeotherm like me. It's times like this that I come to understand the ultimate end of food, clothing and shelter: maintaining body heat. Don't leave home without it.

Cold was a new experience for us when we moved to Virginia (the first time) from sultry Alabama twenty five years ago. Our first rambling 100 year old house in Virginia was heated, using the term loosely, by an ancient oil furnace. At 17 cents a gallon, our first bill was over $300 and we were decidedly NOT warm. We ate our breakfast with our butts parked on the largest cast iron radiator in the house, watching the vapors of our breath as if we were outdoors, glad the folks back home weren't here to say 'I told you so'. At nights when nature called, we had fears of becoming stuck to the toilet seat, like the proverbial tongue on the pump handle. Here we quickly learned about wood heat, and that is another story.

In our second Virginia house out in the country, there was half the space to heat and after replacing all the rattling single-paned windows, it was a pretty snug little bungalow. Except on nights like last night. The kid's rooms where on the north side of the house, and the prevailing winds that swept unimpeded down the Great Valley of Virginia found their way inside. On winter mornings, little florets of ice crystals on the dark paneling of the inside walls marked places I would need to caulk in the spring. I would often get up in the middle of the night and add more wood to the Fisher stove. These days, I just think about it and wear my toboggan and jacket in the mornings when I get up. At least you can't see your breath in here.

Here on Goose Creek, we are living in the oldest old house we have ever owned, and I think it is now the snuggest, despite being 130 years old. The hippies who used to live here qualified for federal energy subsidies and our tax dollars paid for insulation to be blown into the attic and walls, thank you very much. When we moved in, we replaced every window with thermal glass and had the floors insulated. Even so, I expected we would need more than the single woodstove in the front room here, and we added a second smaller one for the great room. We seldom use it. But when temps are down, and stay for several days below freezing and especially with winds that find their way into the valley, I confess: this heavy coat is making my first morning cup of coffee easier to enjoy. But it sure plays havoc with typing.

Posted by fred1st at January 18, 2003 07:01 AM | TrackBack

The word "toboggan" reminds me of a recent conversation in our household just the other day. My "better half", who hails from New Hampshire, was complaining of not having a hat to wear when taking the puppy out for a walk. When I suggested he needed a toboggan, he exclaimed "You want me to wear a SLED on my head?!? I asked what they called it up North, and he said a "watch cap". A watch cap?? Isn't that what gang members wear?? lol
Very cold here, too, Fred...brrrrrrr.

Posted by: deb at January 18, 2003 10:11 AM

Ahh, New Hampshire in the winter! It reached -8 here on the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee early this morning. With the light wind out of the northwest, the wind chill was closer to -24 degrees.

No, I haven't been outside yet. I'm waiting for the temp outside to reach 0 before I head out to run my errands because the trusty Neon really doesn't like to start easily on those below zero mornings.

At least the sunlight streaming through the windows has helped add a little warmth to the morning.

Stay warm, Fred!

Posted by: DCE at January 18, 2003 10:30 AM

I'm reading this the morning after the hottest day this summer. I live in Sydney, Australia, near the harbour and it was 40 degrees celsius in the shade here. Highest temperature in the state was 45 at Parramatta, a 20 minute drive away.

Fires surround Canberra, the nation's capital and 100 homes at least were destroyed last night by bushfire. One man died tryingg to save his home. Bushfires are also on the northern outskirts of Sydney. They were whipped up by the usual strong hot northerly.

A violent southerly change came through in teh night, dropping temperatures by about 12 degrees. Fires weren't helped by this as it was too strong.

How the other half lives!

Posted by: Jan at January 18, 2003 05:03 PM

One more thing... A toboggan? Only thing that would mean down here would be a sled. watch hat also means nothing. Down here a knitted cap or something made perhaps of polar fleece and lined with possibly silk would be worn in the snow. Iniversally known around here as a "beanie."

Posted by: Jan at January 18, 2003 05:05 PM

Toboggan. Hee. What a great word! I hope you stay warm, Fred! Things here in South Dakota have been very cold as well over the course of the last two-three days.

Posted by: Artichoke Heart at January 18, 2003 07:23 PM

It was -38C mean with a wind chill I don't even want to think about yesterday.
Would you like me to send you some of those gloves with the fingertips cut out so you can keep writing? Blog on!

Posted by: Bene Diction at January 21, 2003 01:04 PM

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