By Jack Swift

As fall turns to winter and colder weather, I start thinking about how I’m going to stay warm when the thermometer registers below zero and the wind is howling around the corners of the house. I’m stocked up on Propane, and as far as I know, the heat pump is humming along quite well. As I grow older, I dread winter more each year. It doesn’t take much for my old bones to feel the pain. And there is the added danger of falling on ice for us older folks. Having fallen a few times two or three years ago, I’m as careful as I can be. One of the falls resulted in a broken back, and another resulted in a broken left arm. Moreover, there is always the possibility that something could go wrong with our heating system. It could be that deliveries of propane or heating oil could be late due to bad roads or an ice storm could affect the electrical system.
In this column, I decided to go back in time and write about how my family dealt with cold weather in my early days. Some of my memories of the winter months (perhaps yours too) were vastly different then than now. Today, turning a knob or pushing a lever turns on and regulates the heat in many homes. When I was a youngster, it took much more work. We heated with wood or coal: sometimes both. In the early days, our heat came from a fireplace in the living room of our simple abode. If you have ever tried to get warm by a fireplace, you know it only heats one side of you at a time.
Of course, there are many fireplaces in homes nowadays, but they are much more efficient than they used to be. I think coal was sold by the ton but you could buy by a sack full. Of course, as my mother cooked on the kitchen stove, some of that heat would be felt in the living room as well. People cut wood in the summer, and many do now to prepare for the cold weather ahead. It was a good feeling to know that a good supply of wood was on hand when cold weather set in.
My room was a long way from the heat, and consequently, to combat the cold, it took at least a couple of quilts and a blanket or two to get warm. Anyway, I’m glad dealing with cold weather is better now than it was in my younger days. I think it’s good to travel back in time and remember how it was several years ago. Perhaps it will cause us to appreciate the blessings we have today.