More than one way to get warm

Janice Wells
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I can’t help it. Call me a fair weather gardener if you want, I am so cold I can’t even imagine a warm pleasant garden.

How cold am I? I am so cold that I can’t even stand to have ice in my gin. I am so cold that in blackouts, I could be mistaken for a dog because of my cold nose and my bark. (I don’t normally bark, just when my bronchial tubes are under attack. Newman, bless him, calls me Doc Holliday.)

The only horticultural thought that is entering my mind lately is the fear that I may take root in the corner of the couch where I can be found huddling for hours at a time. No rooting hormone required.

Some of you may not know that there are those who actually do find the cold more than normal people. Daughter No. 1 is one of them. She wears socks to bed in the summer and a hood up around the house all winter long. I am so glad that she went back to Halifax before the deep freeze started here.

I am glad for her because she is now in a warm, draft-free apartment, but I’m also glad for me because what kind of a mother would fight with her child for a turn to warm her bottom in front of the stove. Of course, I’d let her have it but I’m so happy that I wasn’t put to the test.

This old house isn’t particularly drafty or cold. When I bought it, it was heated solely by a DeVille style oil stove. I had electric heat installed, but during a normal winter I use the oil stove all day and only turn the heaters on in a few rooms for an hour or so in the morning, having turned everything off at night. That’s right, everything, because even though I hate this cold, I do like to sleep in a cold room.

It always seemed that the house had no problem warming up and no problem staying warm. This past week I have discovered that once the house cools down in extreme temperatures, I am the one with the problem warming up.

We didn’t even have it so bad. We had a cosy oil stove in the living room, showing a warm flame and capable of heating water and soup and making grilled cheese sandwiches. I am in love with this stove. It sits in our living room in front of the old hearth and has the look of a woodstove, without the work and storage needs of wood. It operates without electricity and I cannot for the life of me figure out why more people don’t have them.

So our house was never as cold as many, but once my bones get cold I’m in for a long haul. And don’t go nodding wisely to yourself, thinking ”that’s because she’s getting old.” All my life, it’s taken days for my feet to warm up from a bad chill; this trait is just spreading to the rest of my body, that’s all.  

On top of a frozen pipe, we had (have; try getting a plumber) a kitchen sink that won’t drain, therefore a dishwasher that won’t work, despite Newman’s best efforts with a snake. Dear Newman. He does try hard. He was so concerned about me being cold that he suggested I fill a pan with hot water and wash all the dishes, thereby warming my hands and, ipso facto, the rest of my body. Note to Newman — it doesn’t work.

His thoughtfulness reminded me of one of Former ’Usband’s finer moments. Moving into a new house, with a 10-month-old in cloth diapers, I bemoaned the fact that I was so pale because I didn’t have much time out in the sun. (This was back when everyone had tans.) F.U. quite seriously suggested that the next time I was hanging out the diapers on a sunny day, I should take my time.

I should have thought of these things before. I think I’m feeling warmer, at least under my collar.

Janice Wells lives in St. John’s. Her latest book, “Newfoundland and Labrador Book of Musts,” was published in October 2010 by MacIntyre Purcell Publishing Inc. You can reach her at Note to readers: please do not send thumbnail-size photographs, as they are too small to publish.

Organizations: MacIntyre Purcell Publishing

Geographic location: Halifax

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