We were anticipating snow tonight, but it went north of us. We have wind and colder temperatures, but nothing like the areas north. It was a good day to make a big pot of homemade chili and just stay home. As much of our country is preparing for the Polar Vortex, I cannot help but remember some of my own experiences in cold weather.
When I was very young, we grew up in a house with a single stove in the dining room. It was a Siegler oil heater with a round vent at the bottom that blew out warm air. This was where we got dressed, dried our hair and just huddled around to keep warm. (There is a picture of our exact stove here.) There was no heat in the house at night, but when we went to bed, the upstairs bedrooms were toasty warm because of the rise of the heat throughout the evening. I can even remember my grandfather fashioning a piece of tin that he clipped to the round blower in an attempt to push warm air into other rooms.
Later in life, I lived in a very old house in Virginia. It was a two-story house that had suffered from neglect over the years. This, again, was a house in which there was no heat at night. The house was heated by a coal stove in the living room and a cast iron pot-bellied stove in the kitchen. The coals would be banked at night so starting a fire the next morning with a little luck and some dry kindling would be easier.
On one particularly cold and snowy night, I remember lying in bed and watching the snow blow into the bedroom between the old weathered clapboards of the house. At one time the seams between the boards had been covered with old newspapers and wallpaper that had long since deteriorated. I think those cold nights buried under heavy hand-made quilts are the reason I love heavy blankets covering me when I sleep. It brings me a sense of comfort.
I am also reminded of a few times when I was staying with my step-mother that we ran out of fuel oil and it was extremely cold! We gathered all the quilts we could find and hung them across the doorways so people stayed in the kitchen to try and stay warm. We all pulled up a chair and sat in front of the open oven on the stove in an effort to get warm.
Then there was the time I lived in Alaska in a mobile home. Talk about cold. There was not a lot of insulation in the walls and I can still remember going into the closet and finding my clothes frozen to the exterior walls of the closet.
I had several cold weather days in Alaska when it dipped well below zero. However, in the 11 years I lived there, there was only one day my car would not start and I had to miss work. Every house and apartment complex had outdoor outlets so you could plug in the headbolt heater that almost everyone had on their car.
My thoughts are with those people in the path of this extremely cold weather. Stay in and REALLY bundle up if you must go out. This anticipated windchill is brutal. Keep your animals, your children, and yourself safe and warm.