Bring a blanket, the heater is staying off

As I write this, snow is falling outside my window. It’s not forecasted snow (last I heard, we were outside the “trace to zero” zone) or even particularly welcome snow, but here it is. Even the kids’ initial enthusiasm was dampened when they realized that it won’t even get them a free day from school, since inservice is scheduled tomorrow. Couple that with the lack of enough to really make a good snowball with, and it just becomes an inconvenience.

With it, this pesky snow brings forecasted temperatures under 30 degrees. While this is bad enough for potted plants and the remnants of gardens, it’s downright disaster for our furnace resistance streak.

From a recent post on a certain social media site, I learned that our family is not alone in cultivating a certain stubbornness, nay downright cussedness, when it comes to beginning to heat the house in winter. It seems that quite a few of us cherish what we see as either resilience or thriftiness, to the point of making it a matter of pride how many layers we can put on before simply existing in our unheated homes becomes unbearable. We mark the date we turned on the heat, and try to last longer each year. Because, for some reason, going without heat makes us better, smarter, more frugal people, or so we think.

Our family, for example, owns enough comforters and afghans to possibly supply a small country, Lichtenstein perhaps, with personal blankets. Darling hubby equates weight with heat, so if you have enough blankets on the bed to make it hard to breathe, you must therefore be warm. Either that, or it’s the effort required to exert your body enough to simply draw breath beneath that much fabric, but hey. I, on the other hand, enjoy shifting position without requiring a forklift to rearrange my blankets. Years ago, a friend introduced me to an electric mattress pad, and I’ve never looked back.

But then, as we all know, morning comes and you eventually have to leave the warm nest you’ve so carefully created, because that coffee isn’t going to make itself, is it? (Before you ask, no, I do not have an automatic coffee pot. That would take all of the fun out of mornings.) Leaping out of bed, applying as many clothes to yourself as quickly as possible is the first priority. Hopefully some of them are presentable enough to be seen in public, but failing that, at least are thick enough to warm up quickly. My unfortunate family doesn’t even have homemade sweaters to look forward to, despite my prolific knitting habit. They do, however, have wool socks, which just can’t be beat on cold mornings.

Most of you are happy owners (and if you’re not, you should be) of central heating units. For you, getting warm faster is as simple as turning a dial. Indeed, I miss those days sometimes, and I do have a healthy appreciation for my parents telling me not to mess with the thermostat. There are those of us who heat with wood, for whom warming the house involves a longer process.

Of course, we do have a propane space heater to make sure the pipes don’t freeze, but it doesn’t do much for you unless you’re within twenty feet of it. And, as tempting as it is to camp out in front of it, the hard floor overcomes any bonus of instant and intense heat that might be had. Thus, we have to pull out the big guns, so to speak, and (for us, literally) fire up the furnace.

Hopefully, the procurement of firewood earlier in the year has been successful and said firewood is plentiful. The wood has to be brought into the house from wherever it’s stored, hopefully already dry and ready to burn. The fire must be carefully laid and tended in whatever stove, place, or furnace is currently available, and all attendant dampers and flues must be precisely adjusted so as to avoid flooding the house with smoke. Because let me tell you, those three sweatshirts you’re wearing are going to smell like wood smoke forever if you’re not careful. I’m talking about people at the store looking at you funny, wondering what kind of loon is camping in this weather kind of smell. The correct log must be selected, appropriate for both burn time and damper level, as well as ignitability. It’s not a process for people who don’t want to think about their heat.

So it was, with much careful consideration, that we decided to bring in the first load of firewood today, ridiculously early (by at least a month), and wet to boot. The house is now tolerably warm, and we’re pretty sure we haven’t gone soft or extravagant, since we’re only bringing in enough for the nights below freezing. Plus, Hubs brought it in while it was cold and sleeting, so he’s still definitely tough. And, on the bright side, our new record next year is going to be a doozy. Stay warm, folks. And quit messing with that thermostat.