After Jack Frost's granddaddy overwhelmed our peaceful valley last week, he left (I wish he would) several others and me without conventional heat sources. Several times during the five seemingly interminable days in the cooler, I felt as though I was in a fog. Then I realized I'd steamed up my glasses from breathing into my scarf.
At 49 degrees, my living room was too chilly to trim the tree, so I donned several sweaters and socks and loaded up on space heaters — to the delight of Eagle Point Hardware.
As with most discouragements in life, I began by wringing my hands (accomplishing both whining and warming) about the infernal injustice of it all and the high cost of a planned-obsolescence society. I reminisced about my old, turquoise blue, gas furnace of yesteryear — an appliance that stood the test of time but was forced into retirement.
I decided to hole up in my bedroom and watch Andy Griffith reruns until I could quote every line backwards and imitate Goober to perfection. My room began to resemble a hamster cage without the fun wheel. Piles of books, blankets, breakfast and lunch dishes, crossword puzzles, clothing layers and my two, large, snuggly cat boys threatened to encroach and overwhelm me.
Then I began to think beyond myself, to summon some latent gene of pioneer pluck and spirit — to venture outside. Hummingbirds provided the spark. Their nectar was a frozen block of ice, much like the morning coffee I'd left on the counter, and I was their savior. I geared up with enough clothing to be warm and barely moving, my appearance giving new meaning to the term "7-layer dip." But going outside gave me pause, not just because I was up to my calves in snow, but philosophical pause to see more than a few silver linings rimming the clouds of my adventure:
1) I realized I'd be able to take advantage of local meat specials because I was no longer limited by minimal freezer space.
2) I felt wholly justified consuming additional calories, particularly carbohydrates in the form of coffee cake, as I needed to keep my taxed energy reserves plugging. Or was it my arteries? Anyway, I baked the cake myself, thereby utilizing said calories and warming the kitchen 3 degrees for a solid 32 minutes.
3) The air became so dry from the space heaters running full bore that I found I could operate one of them using static electricity created by rubbing the two cats together, thus warming the three of us.
4) Entering a 50-degree house from a mere 2 degrees outdoors gave me visions of Tahiti for a few glorious moments. Then climbing to my balmy 64-degree bedroom, I was back in the Phoenix desert of my youth, yearning for a box fan, some Coppertone lotion and an ice-cold margarita.
5) The cardio workout I enjoyed by putting on and removing those seven layers of clothing you couldn't buy at a gym. Especially the special effort I expended at removing mud boots from my club-like feet bulging with three pairs of socks.
6) I actually looked forward to washing dishes when I could fill both sinks nearly to overflowing with scalding water, thereby giving the plates and things a good sanitizing in the bargain. In fact, consuming those extra calories to keep up my strength came in handy by supplying added dirty dishes. What the heck, I thought, and I unloaded the cupboards and gave everything a good freshen-up.
7) Taking a hot shower became sheer rapture instead of duty, except when I failed to allow the hot water to warm the porcelain tub adequately. But even that had an unforeseen benefit as I finally hit that note I never could before in "O Holy Night." Divine.
8) I'll be the only one on my block to get an inducer motor for my heat pump this Christmas. A $700 surprise that wasn't even on my list.
9) Last and most important was the benevolent responses I received when I posted my plight on Facebook and drew all the smiley faces and cyber-warmth. Although, the Costco chicken was a more practical expression. Thanks, Lynn and to all who offered their guest rooms during our trial.
May your heat sources remain true and may you enjoy this miraculous Season of Love.
Freelance writer Peggy Dover lives in Eagle Point. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.