Sunday, January 8, 2017

WARMED IN GRATITUDE

Yesterday was cold and it snowed heavily.
The day before was sunny but frozen, well below 0.
David quipped there were no degrees left.
I added that a few seemed to be missing!

Mom and I talked about being, and staying, warm.
About how nice it is to not have to go outside to get wood.
And about how rich we were when I was growing up.
We burned coal!  Mom tells me that only the rich had coal.

I never felt poor but did not realize I was rich!
As I scrubbed down the black soot from ceilings and walls twice a year, at least, I certainly didn't think that made me rich.

(In the fall, after dad brought the loads of coal that were shoveled to fill the small coal room in the basement [6x6?], we always washed all the ceilings and walls. No matter how well our furnace grate was covered the black dust filtered to stick to everything. And mother insisted everything was washed clean. In the spring, after most of the coal was burned, and the weather warmed so a fire was no longer needed night and day, we washed everything again to remove the greasy black soot that clung to the ceiling and walls. Mom never complained. It was the price of being warm, and rich!)

Mother grew up in Hillspring. Coal came there on a train, and was costly. A coal fire only needed attention a few times a day for a steady, constant heat. It was also more easily banked to burn more slowly all night.

The Campbell family burned wood in a large iron stove to stay warm.
Keeping the fire going all day was an all day job.
When it was very cold, the fire was tended even through the night.

At night they would warm their beds with a rubber hot water bottle or a glass jar filled with hot water - water that was heated on the stove. The rubber water bottle was a luxury item, and plastic containers didn't exist. They would get the beds warm, and by sleeping with several siblings be able to stay warm all night.

Mom says they always slept with 3 or 4 to a bed.

All summer they would go to the timber and cut logs. The logs were then cut into 6 foot lengths, loaded on a wagon, and taken home where they were cut into shorter lengths and stacked in the wood house at the bottom of the lot.

I remember the mostly empty shed at Grandpa Campbell's, at the far back by the alley. I realized that I usually visited in the summer and I am not sure I ever saw it in winter when it would have been full. She says they were really lucky. They always had enough wood for the winter because they could go to the timber and fill the wood house. There was lots of wood available at no cost.

Mother explained that the logs had to also be split into smaller pieces to be able to fit into the stove, and no one was exempt from the chore of helping keep the fire going. You had to put on your coat and boots and go out to the wood house and get the wood. It was just an un-insulated, enclosed place to protect the wood and keep it dry.

I asked if critters liked to go in there to stay out of the storms. She said of course! All kinds of animals took shelter. Was she scared to go in there, I asked. She said you just took a stick with you and hit anything that was there to chase it off. Weasels were the most fearsome.

She also explained how her dad eventually put together a larger furnace out of sheet metal, and then a larger log could be burned. The bigger logs lasted longer and burned more slowly. They were so grateful to have the furnace.

We also talked about storing food. The Campbell family had a cellar on the north side of the house that kept things like root crops and bottled fruit, vegetables and meats, from freezing in the winter, and in summer it was cool enough to keep milk from souring to quickly.

Gratitude. This year I need more gratitude.
I am grateful for central heating and cooling.
I am grateful for electricity and appliances.
I am so grateful for ancestors that worked so hard.
Family that is so loving, and hard working.

And for so much more.
My heart is warmed thinking of all I can be grateful for.