2008.10.29 The Dorks vs. the weather

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

I’m really looking forward to Halloween. I don’t think I’ve been this excited about it since I was a kid.

I haven’t thought about a costume. I’ll probably just sit on the porch in weird clothing with my little ceramic dog and toss candy into bags. The dog enjoys licking the candy before it goes in each visitor’s bag. Some kids don’t like that and of course that’s when I score a point.

Thinking about Halloween gives me a warm feeling. I really don’t care about trick-or-treating. It’s heat.

My wife came up with the crazy notion of seeing if we could last until Halloween without turning on the furnace. We’re getting daytime highs outside in the 50s—well, until Saturday when it reached only 49—and I’m sure the hot water heater and appliances are giving off some heat, so we survive.

Between work demands and...well, other work demands, it seems as though we’re seldom here except to eat and sleep. And run in place every so often.

This is kind of fun in one way. I think I’m considered a wacko more often than Colleen, but this is her idea. She describes it as a game. A cruel game, perhaps.

Looking at the forecast, I’m not so sure we’ll make it through the heart of the week. It’s going to warm up into the upper 50s by the weekend—perhaps a balmy 59° for my time on the porch Friday—but by then we might have consumed all the Halloween candy for fuel.

I was thinking recently about the training I’ve had for this experience. It’s more than just the winter camping trip with Scoutmaster John Hay.

When I was growing up in the big house on Cawley Road, I wanted a bedroom of my own so I took over the small “sewing room” as the previous owners called it. I loved the place, but it had no heating duct.

I used a sleeping bag in the winter and that went fine until that one fateful night when the bag’s zipper came into contact with the prongs of an electrical plug that wasn’t snugly pushed into place. A rather shocking episode.

I made it through college in warm abodes, but then came a drafty room in Saginaw and the daily commute to work by bicycle in a Michigan winter.

After that was the little school house in rural Maine. It had a wood stove that did a good job of heating as long as the fire didn’t go out in the night. There were extremely cold mornings, and if I recall, the shower never got really hot, either. That cold Maine winter surely contributed to my hardiness this morning.

Next came a series of rooms and apartments in Portland, Oregon. Two were good; the middle one was not.

I had a short stay in an apartment near the downtown during a winter when Portland had some ice. I described the kitchen of my place as the only walk-in freezer with a view of Mt. Hood. What a luxury to glance out the window and see Hoody miles away to the east. What a mountain.

But I couldn’t look for long because it was literally freezing. The exterior wall of the room was all drafty windows. Through those windows I could hear the screaming next door, the threats of murder, as if they were standing right in my freezer.

After a couple of chilly weeks, I gave up my damage deposit and got out of there. I’ll bet the landlord used the money to fix the windows.

I guess I’ve stayed fairly warm in the subsequent years back home in Morenci. Winter mornings have always been a challenge since Colleen turns the thermostat way down when she goes to bed, then doesn’t get up until I’ve come down and raised it back up.

A friend of ours was doing the same “How long can we go without heat?” thing until a week or so ago when a friend of her kids came over to visit and she gave in.

No one has entered our home so we continue to tough it out alone. Colleen even mentioned Laura Ingalls Wilder last night and “The Long Winter” book. I reminded her that Laura at least had warm stones placed in her bed.

If we do make it to Halloween, I’m afraid that’s only going to encourage Ms. Leddy.

“Let’s go ‘til your birthday.”

“Let’s see if we can make it to Thanksgiving.”

I gotta go. I’m going outside to warm up.

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