Saturday, January 30, 2010


Calamatous cooties,
my housewifely duties,
make wiping up dust a bothersome chore.
Abracadabra, I wave my rag wand
and the dust disappears
but tomorrow there's more.

It’s that time of year. The woodstove is humping as we beat back the bitter cold of this endless winter. But, in the process of heating my house, it deposits a fine layer of dust daily on every surface. My philosophy in the winter is to dust only on the weekends or when we’re expecting company, whichever occurs the least often. This philosophy keeps me from running stark naked through the snow screaming in frustration.

Heating a house with a woodstove is definitely the toastiest way to go. My dad loves to come see me in the winter and cozy up to the stove. He backs up to it, heats his pants, pulls them against his legs and sighs with a happy grin on his face. I like to do that with my flannel nightgown and then run and jump into bed before it cools. This is a technique I learned when I was about nine and my family spent “40 days and nights in the wilderness” as my mom likes to refer to it.

In actuality we were living at Rosebower Farm in Dinwiddie, Virginia. The house was breezy (a great attribute in those southern latitudes, but not so nice in January) and the furnace, when it wheezed on, didn’t do much more than occasionally cough some tepid air through the vents. So, at night, mom and dad would build a cozy fire in the fireplace of the only interior room. The den would get about ten degrees warmer than the forty degree house, and we would gather to shiver, do homework, and read. When our homework was finished, Meg and I scurried up the winding staircase to the little nursery tucked in the eaves, threw our clothes off and jumped into our nightgowns . Our breath left cold little ghosts floating in the air. When we’d pulled on our matching flannel gowns, we’d pound down the steps and jostle for a position close to the fire, heating our backsides until we were in danger of igniting. Then, we’d warm our front-sides by hugging our parents and dash madly up the steps so we could jump under our icy covers before we cooled.

Mom says her memories of that time are of having to put breakfast plates in the oven so they could warm up before she placed our hot eggs on them, or the eggs would be cold before they reached the table. It’s no wonder I don’t like cold weather. My bones were frozen at a very impressionable age and never fully thawed out again. So, in spite of the dust and the wood bark decorating my front room, I am grateful for my woodstove. As my husband likes to say, “A woodstove heats you twice. Once when you cut the wood and once when you burn it.”


  1. Oh, I so enjoy your posts! You write so well and evoke such clear pictures with your words! Thank you.

  2. Gin...I had forgotten how cold that winter was! Remember having to venture into the frigid "pink room" upstairs to fetch our clothes What great memories your writing brings you!


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