Friday, January 21, 2011

Keeping Warm

I don't mind December so much around here because mostly it's snow and that means it's relatively warm. The key word is relative.

However, January is my least favorite month because that's when the howling bitter cold makes it's entrance. And I mean bitter cold.

Yesterday afternoon I was running an errand for the Farmer and noticed that I was getting low on gas. Believe me, you do not want a small amount of gas in your car when the bitter cold hits. Gas line freeze is a real problem. We're still not the coldest part of the country where they have to plug their cars into heater so that their enging block doesn't freeze.

I'm thinking tonight of those living on the Apostle Islands in Lake Superior who drive across the frozen lake in wintertime to get to town on the mainland. Would I EVER feel the ice was thick enough to drive across Superior? NO!!! It's the darkest, deepest and most dangerous body of water I've ever encountered. My sister and I crossed it in a ferry on Thanksgiving weekend one year and were chilled to the bone and not just from the temperature. That lake reeks of danger.

I stopped at the gas station and in the time it took to pump gas I was literally freezing, even though I had warm wool mittens and a scarf around my head. The wind cuts right through any clothing other than snowmobile gear.

The weatherman was promising that the temps were going way, way down and I was wishing for a big pot bellied stove to warm myself.

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To be honest, they look really cool and the burning wood gets very hot but if you step further than five steps away, you are FREEZING. This is the big pot bellied stove out at Josie's Antiques and it's the only heat in her large outbuilding. There's no way in hell this stove can heat anything larger than a small space.

For the life of me I cannot imagine how the settler's survived and I'm dumbfounded that the Indians could survive at all. I've been in a wigwam and cannot even fathom spending one night in the dead of winter keeping warm.


Inside the wigwam at Boone County Heritage Gardens.

I guess there's something to be said for tight spaces and body heat.


18 comments:

Susan said...

Suzanne, I had to chuckle. I think of these same thigns so often...how others kept warm 100's of years ago. They did not have the down coats and polypropolene lonh johns.

Anonymous said...

it does make you wonder how they did it, we watched a dvd the other night and it was about soldiers in Germany during wwII in the winter, can you imagine being out in the open with no coveralls, etc?
I guess they did what they had to, to survive.
Its bitter cold here in MI and I don't plan on going out anymore than needed, gotta keep the eggs gathered and chickens watered! I am so thankful for my automatic waterers for the cattle,the first one was actually a Christmas a several years ago.
stay warmPam

Lisa D. said...

When I was a kid we had a small country store with a pot-bellied stove. I don't remember if it heated the store efficiently or not, I just remember that it was a cool little woodstove. We have a woodstove in our house now and I love it so much. We have a very small house, so overall it heats the place quite nicely. There are always a couple of cold spots, but I just love the heat of the stove, it warms you all the way through like the furnace just can't do.
I am glad that we don't have the prairie winds here, but wind or no wind, -30 and -40 (celsius) is cold! And it always seems colder when it hits in January than in any other month.

Jody Blue said...

You are right on those pot bellied stoves they don't radiate heat very well, we had one in an old school house that was on the plot of land my parents moved us to. Barrel stoves really throw off the heat. Back in Laura Ingalls time they ate alot more fat in their diets and that helped keep them warm. I grew up about 3 hours north of Mpls/St.Paul, I remember that even though we plugged in cars and truck we still had to get hot coals from the wood stove, we set them under the engine to warm things up.

QuiltNCards said...

We visited some soddies in MN while we were stationed near Walnut Grove. A farmer built 2 on an acre of his land... planted the native grasses that grow up to 8ft. tall around them. It was a very educational viewing. They were very dampish and smelled of mold. Few furnishings, really thick walls and only 2 windows... they were very dark inside. And it was summer when we were there! What did they do for a door? What did they do about a leaky ceiling that would make a mud puddle on the earthen floor? And there would only be an outhouse - no indoor plumbing. And I'm not even talking winter here. Oh, we have it good!

Mary Rex said...

Wow. I can't believe that people drive over that ice either. Remember that song The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald? I looked up Lake Superior on Wikipedia and found out that one island on Superior - Isle Royale - contains several lakes, some of which also contain islands! That's big.

Kat said...

The wigwam you have pictured is a great example of a summer wigwam. Breezes came in the gap at the bottom, and hot air escape from teh hole at the top. Summer wigwams were designed to be shaded, breezy, comfortable places to work and relax in.
Winter wigwams were built from warmer materials, didn't have the same type of gap at the bottom, and had a far more restricted opening for smoke at the top. Their shape kept heat central and low, which is where people sat, worked, and slept.
Winter wigwams were actually warmer and more economical to heat than cabins the cabins that were eventually built around them.
Cabins had other benefits though, including your family's safety from settlers' guns...

Terri said...

Wow, I was impressed with Kat's knowledge!

I would never drive a car on a frozen lake. I cannot imagine that anyone would!

Pamela said...

I used to live on Lake Superior - in Washburn, Wisconsin. Beautiful area but I would never cross the ice road. Can't imagine! You do learn to accept winter in that climate!

Rose said...

I often wonder how the early settlers survived the cold...imagine doing laundry in the weather we are having now. Even worse, imagine having a little baby in this weather in those conditions.

Thoughts on Life and Millinery. said...

January is the month that has little offer aside from being event-less, mostly, so I can just let my life go to pot for awhile. I have read about Eskimo families being so warm in their igloos that they peel off layers. And farm families in your area in the 1800's stacking hay bales around their houses, up the sides and on the roof, with only a small passage left to get outside. The fire hazard, how dark and airless winter must have been inside. Plus several kids and diapers...eww.

Thoughts on Life and Millinery. said...

January is the month that has little offer aside from being event-less, mostly, so I can just let my life go to pot for awhile. I have read about Eskimo families being so warm in their igloos that they peel off layers. And farm families in your area in the 1800's stacking hay bales around their houses, up the sides and on the roof, with only a small passage left to get outside. The fire hazard, how dark and airless winter must have been inside. Plus several kids and diapers...eww.

Leslie T. said...

I can't even imagine driving on that lake ice. The very thought practically sends me into a panic attack. I can't decide if those people are very brave or very foolish. At any rate, you couldn't pay me to drive on a frozen lake.
I've been listening to the weather reports about the cold temperatures you folks have been having. You've got my total admiration for surviving errands in that weather. I was out hiking in the mountains yesterday in short sleeves. Being a wimpy SoCal girl, I'm loving our recent wave of warm weather and sun and you know I would shrivel up and die in your neck of the woods. I admit it. I'm soft. Soft, I tell you, and wimpy and whiny, and please feel free to add any other descriptives that you care to. :) If I lived in Illinois, right now I would be wallowing my days away in a snowmobile suit. Perhaps with an electric blanket wrapped around it. Although I have to tell you, my husband found an electric jacket which is made by Milwaukee tools and he's always threatening to buy it for me because I'm always cold. Maybe I would make it through an Illinois winter in one of those. With a pair of electric socks. :)

MelissaD said...

Thanks to Leslie T. for info on a heated jacket - perfect gift for my hubby who has started snowmobiling this winter. I just ordered one of these online for him. However, driving up to the mountains to play for a day or two cannot be anything as bad as living in the bitter cold it sounds like many of you are enduring. Drink lots of tea and snuggle!

Lisa D. said...

I love coming back to read everyone else's comment, and learning a little about (and from) each of them. I have to chuckle at all those afraid to drive on the ice though. Up here in Alberta, we don't think anything of driving on the ice. Just this weekend my daughter went ice fishing with a family friend. Not only do they drive out on the ice for the day, but also build a campfire. The ice is many inches thick.
My husband used to drive a big eighteen wheeler across the ice bridge on the Peace River every week. I never really thought anything of it.
An aunt tells a story of working for one of the oil companies, and in their efforts to cut costs one of the executives asked, "Why do you need to build another ice bridge? What did you do with last year's?"

srp said...

I was talking to my cousin on Skype the other night. He lives in southern Illinois and built himself an underground house with one side opening to the outside. He mows his roof in summer and it is small, just a living/dining area, small office and kitchen and one bedroom and bath. He heats it with a wood stove and says that he can keep it nice and toasty with a few sticks of wood a night, even in January. I guess the insulation of two feet of earth on the roof helps and the thick wall of cinderblocks and river stone doesn't hurt either.

Vee said...

Keeping warm is high on my list of late, too. In fact, I'm biting the bullet and have ordered the oil tank f.i.l.l.e.d. This represents security to me instead of these miserable 100 gallon drops. It's too easy to run out of fuel.

Loved the red shoes...loved them! I'm thinking longingly of a red pair of gardening boots I saw yesterday. Now you have me wondering why I didn't just get them...70% off and for under $20. Can't beat that.

RSA Online said...

I've always had such a love/hate relationship with wood stoves for that exact same reason! Yours looks very nice though