The first wave of really severe arctic air has hit my part of the East Coast. Today feels more like January than mid-November. It looks as if it’s going to be a long, bitterly cold winter.
I love summer, when I can stay comfortable with lots of fans moving air around, even when it’s hot. And I love that my electricity bills drop to around $55 for the month. But I hate being cold. I hate being cold, and I hate power bills that have jumped as high as $300 for a single month, during our worst weather.
I hadn’t thought about it for years, but suddenly I had a memory of my grandparents’ house – one of those wonderful, vivid memories that momentarily transports one back in time to a much-loved place. Papa and Mama lived in what had been built to be a practical small farmhouse just outside their town’s business district. It was probably a hundred years old, built before electricity had been introduced to the area. There were fireplaces in the living room and both bedrooms, as well as the flue opening for a wood stove in the kitchen.
When electricity was added, an electric furnace was installed under the house. A hot air return was cut out of the floor of the hallway. In summer, this ugly grated opening was covered with a throw rug, but in winter it stood uncovered and dangerously hot, belching heated air into the house. (Mama always fretted over the danger of children tripping and falling on top of that grate, and being burned. I did it once — Not Fun.) To save money — that generation was frugal — they shut off the unused living room, and Mama also shut off her bedroom. That room was like ice!!! I don’t know how she could stand to dress in there, twice a day!
But Papa’s room, which also doubled as a den, was always toasty warm with a small fire burning in the one fireplace in the house that hadn’t been sealed off. He and Mama would get through their daily work quickly, in the mornings, then they would settle into that one heated room, he with his newspaper and magazines, and she with her kitting or crocheting or tatting or sewing . . .
So I’m going to give it a try. I’ve moved my office into what was formerly the master bedroom, and it’s large enough I can tuck a couple extra chairs in. I can warm it with a space heater while I’m working in here, and keep the rest of the house a bit cooler. Maybe I’ll even get more work done, this winter.