It is so cold.
Our poor old house was built in 1841. We've lived here for almost twenty three years and have restored, renovated, rebuilt and remodeled it into a somewhat authentic period home. I realized I just said "home", not "house". It is a wonderful home. As a house, it leaves a bit to be desired. It exacts a penalty for what it is. With a very few exceptions, not seen from the street, all of the windows are original. Most of the glass in those windows is original. The glass is bubbly and rippled. The glass is various shades of clear and violet and green, depending the exposure to the sun, which does wonderful things to old glass. One of the panes in a dining room window has a THUMB PRINT IN THE GLASS... OUCH!!! I'm glad I wasn't around when that pane (PAIN!!) was made. It is odd, too, that same pane of glass has a distinct violet hue, brought about, no doubt, not by the sun, but by whatever oath was uttered over it by the unfortunate owner of that immortalized thumb. The windows are drafty. I have added inconspicuous weather stripping to seal them. It helps. But not much. The storm windows are mid century vintage. They succeed in keeping the driving rains and snow at bay, but the slightest zypher finds it's way in. When it is really windy, the shades and curtains slowly dance in and out. I don't need a weather vane to tell which way the wind is blowing, I just check out the window dressings...
But, it's better than it was the first year we moved in. We knew the house needed a lot of work. Mount Rushmore needed a lot of work, too. However, not having a budget of monumental proportions stymied us a bit in the beginning and deciding that having working kitchen appliances and bathroom fixtures one step above a gas station restroom were a priority, we put up with our homes unique relationship with the outside weather conditions. I think that over the years the house grew accustomed to functioning as part of the environment, rather than a shelter from it. Sort of an organic/symbiotic relationship, you could call it, in an odd moment of rationalization. The first winter we spent here was brutal. We scraped up the money for a new chimney and a cheap woodstove for the livingroom and we moved in there for the duration. We spent the winter sleeping on the floor in front of the stove, which had to be fed on an hourly basis to maintain a semblence of warmth. It was rough. We kept a piece of 1 x 2 lumber in the bathroom to break up the scrim of ice that would form on the edges of the toilet water overnight. All of the faucets in the house were kept running so the pipes wouldn't freeze. Once it was so cold the pump for the well, which is in a utility room off our kitchen, froze solid overnight. I had to thaw it with a hair dryer. When it was really cold, we would sit in front of the refrigerator, with the door open, because the air coming out of it was warmer than the air in the house. Well, not really, but we considered it.
I think this house, our home, has an idea that it should be a summer home. It wants to be shut up for the winter, devoid of any living occupants and keep company with the drafts and the chill, until the sun equalizes the temperature within and without. In summer it is less like a house then an extension of the outdoors. I rarely have the sensation of coming in or going out of the house in the summer, but in the winter the outside follows you in like a stray cat you shouldn't have fed. No matter where you go in the house this time of year, winter follows you around, doing figure eights around your legs, jumping up on your lap wherever you sit and putting it's cold nose on the back of your neck when least expected.
In the summer, this house looses count of the hours, but in winter it counts the seconds, tick by cold, harsh tick, counting the days until Old Sol comes around in earnest, arms spread wide and draws it, almost unwillingly, to his warm busom. I guess it all equals out, in the end. In the winter, the house is happy and in the summer we are happy. Spring and Autumn are a toss up.
I bid you peace... and warmth.


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