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Heat for the Cold

I have been waking up in a whole new world. The shift is real. The change just settling in with me. The struggle to be warm during these coldest days and nights has ended.

The struggle to keep the chains sharpened and to have the time before the day’s light had faded too low to safely cut wood for the evening. Gathering up wood to “burn” has been my game for months and the only real source of heat in my home since the old wall propane furnaces had played out and were not repairable or safe to use any longer.

It was late last year that a dear friend, Diana Duran, held an Open House for a property she had restored as an investment. I wanted to see it and then be able to encourage others to look too. It was late in the day and I was really pleased that the Open House was still in progress. What a darling home it would be for a new family in an established neighborhood. What I discovered actually has changed my life. It wasn’t the home, the construction, the comfortable layout, it was the heat. The contractor was still in the building completing the finishing touches so he was able to explain how the system was installed and how efficient it was to use for both heating and cooling the home. I walked away wondering if I could ever afford a ductless heat pump for my own home.

Let me tell you a little more about my home. It is rather quirky, as you might have imagined a place I would live might be. But more so, it is home-made. And was made on a budget with my dad and I the contractors, the builders, the insulators, the mud and tapers and painters. We did it all but the plumbing and some of the brickwork on a chimney. I never got a loan and paid as we did the work. We laid car-siding on the floors and porch flooring throughout the house, sanded and varnished and hoped it would last long enough to be covered in a few years when I could afford to lay carpeting. As it turned out, I never laid the carpet, I learned to care for the pine floors, taking our shoes off at the door and waxing and bluffing the floors to keep them looking almost brand new all these years later.

A husband helped me add on a second half of the house, same kind of floors. But neither side ever had adequate heat, as we used wall furnaces and never spent the money for a real heating and air-conditioning system with ducts and such. Just didn’t ever had the funds to do it. So, the real source for heat was the wood shoved into the wood stove throughout the harshest winter nights.

This fall, I made the decision to be like Diana Duran and purchase the system I had seen. It required an electrical upgrade and the electrician said as he was leaving, they would be back after the holidays to complete the installation. Thanksgiving passed and I knew winter was going to be easy. Then more weeks passed, still no word from the professionals, then Christmas and we cut more wood just in case. Then, the day before the end of this year, with real winter looming, 3 truck loads of men came down my country road and installed and set up and wired my home so the heat pumps made by Mitsubishi could begin doing what all the wood has done for me through the coldest nights: getting up every 2 hours to add the wood, maneuver the ashes, stoke the fire. All my adult winters in this home, 40 plus years. Until 14 days ago.

This evening I am wishing each of you warm nights and shiver-less mornings. Be kind to old women who may still be cutting wood. Give them a hand, take out the ashes, bring in the kindling and if you would bend down and start that fire and warm that little front room. Stand there together and warm your selves by the fire because you will know nothing is more satisfying than a wood burning fire nothing warmer, but nothing in the modern world harder.

So, on this coldest night of the year, I will rest a whole lot easier knowing as long as the electricity keeps my new appliance blowing, this little woman is easing into the modern living with a great appreciation to all who came down that lane to work together to make it possible. And as you might have guessed, the little shed is filled and ready to provide the backup should it be needed!

Respectfully Submitted ~ Rebecca Jim


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