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Friday, November 5, 2010

a little too comfortable

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As our fall weather quickly turns winter-ish here in the mountains of Virginia, I sit and listen to the tinkling of heat coming through our floor vents.  I am at once both grateful for the year-round comfort that a heat pump provides, and nostalgic for the seasonal temperature changes within the house as well as out.

not my house
When I was a young girl, I would spend the days with my granny while my mother and father worked.  My granny lived in an aging apartment complex with cast-iron radiators for heat in the winter.  There was no air-conditioning at all.  During the summer, she would crank the windows open and place a large electric window fan at the other end of the room, to get a "cross-draft."  She would sit in front of that window for most of the day, enjoying the cool breezes while I played outside in the heat.  Unlike my son, I wouldn't say that it was too "hot" to play outside, only coming in for an occasional glass of cool lemonade.

When the weather turned cool and the leaves began to change, the window would be closed for the season and the heavy drapes drawn across.  There were no floor-length drapes in her home, though, because a radiator sat beneath each window.    As the superintendent turned the heat on each year, there would be much popping and crackling while the radiator stretched its seasonal legs.  A funny smell would appear as dust burned away from the large, heavy coils.  And, the heat would be on again.

not my granny's radiator
The radiators were topped with huge slabs of marble.  I don't know if it was something that my granny had acquired over the years, or if they were provided by the apartment owners.  However, the huge pieces of rock turned the radiators into hot-topped tables during the winter.  While I would place my cheek against the cool surface in the warmer months, I knew better than to touch those burning slabs of marble if the heat was on.  At home, my mother would reheat her coffee in the microwave.  Well, I can't remember if my granny had a microwave or not, but she didn't really need one as long as she had her radiators going. I can recall that she would set her coffee cup on the table-top each morning and the liquid would stay warm throughout the day. 

As I sit here this morning, sipping my own coffee, in my own home, I fondly remember those days when there was a true hot seat in the house.  A place that was warmer than any other.  The other corners of the room may have been drafty, but there was always that coveted seat next to the radiator.  I remember the mornings of waking to rush down and cold hallway to use the restroom.  The days of entering a cold room in which my dad had turned off the electric baseboards and wishing the heat would just hurry up and rush out at my cold feet.  The evenings when the seasons could surely be felt in your bones and you cuddled together under warm afghan blankets with hot cups of cocoa.  And, I sit here in my t-shirt, listening to my heat drift up through the floor vents, watching my daughter run around bottomless (we're potty-training), and I'm completely comfortable.  A blanket is on the couch beside me, for comfort, but I do not need it.  I know that, though the sun shines bright, the air outside is quite cold for an early November day.  I realize that, when we go out, we'll have to put on coats.  Yet, for now, it is 72 degrees in every corner of my home.  The perfect temperature.

For that, I am grateful.  I know that there are many people in this country, my own parents included, who are not blessed with the supreme heat pump that we have.  They don't have super-tight, energy-efficient homes.  They don't necessarily have heat pumps.  They may still have baseboards, radiators, or just plain fireplaces and wood stoves.  I know that we are blessed.  And yet, maybe we'll turn that thermostat down a little bit and throw an extra blanket on the bed.  Not just to save money, but to teach the kids just how blessed we are.
not me, not my bed

Oh, and when I'm camping in 28 degree temperatures this weekend, I will definitely miss my heat-pump.  Bundle up, ya'll!

1 comment:

  1. Sometimes I wish I lived in a place that snowed and was white and wintery. Then I think about how cold it would be and I'm glad that I'm in a place where I have yet to turn the heat on... but still have to run the AC in the afternoons.


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