Friday, March 27, 2015

Layer It With Brick

Idaho winters are cold.  They used to be even colder.

I remember waking up winter mornings, hearing Dad get up just after 4 a.m. to go milk the cows, rustling around to stoke up the stove to bring a little warmth into the house while making some coffee to warm up his insides.  I would reach up to touch the window just long enough to make sure it was as cold as it felt and was never surprised to find it so.

I would hear Dad go outside at 4:20 a.m., pushing his little cart with the two milk cans full of warm water, its wheels making crunch noises in the frozen snow and would place my hand back on the window which had thick frost even on the inside of the pane, leaving it there just long enough to thaw a hand shape. Jack Frost spent extra time at our house.

There wasn't any heat in the bedroom, just cold bricks at our feet, sometimes still wrapped in their towels. They were put there the night before to help warm up our bodies, which were covered in layers of warm flannel pajamas and wool socks, and homemade wool quilts. Mother would wrap a warm brick in a towel and tuck it in the bed a few minutes before bedtime.  Right at bedtime, we would put our pillows on the top of the Warm Morning stove, heating them up just until we began to smell the scorch of the pillowcase,  then flipping them over to warm the other side the same, and then running pell mell to the bed, with our faces still against the warm pillow.  I can still almost smell that scorch in my mind...and now and then still do when I iron :o)

Even as a child I knew that the real reason I reached up and touched the frosted window was to honor the hero in my dad, for working so hard to feed us and keep us warm so we could sleep in a little longer and be a little cozier.

Thanks, Dad.  And thanks, Mom, for getting up a bit later, and stoking up the fire again to warm him when he came in from milking and for getting us warm food in our tummies.  Many is the time when I had Campbell's soups for breakfast just to help warm my insides, either chicken noodle or vegetable.

When the wind would blow a certain way, the smoke in the stove would gush out of the stove and fill Mother's clean kitchen.  She would then have to banish us out of the house for a while while she cleaned up the mess. Soot was everywhere and had to be washed down by hard-working hands, Mother's.

They got us electric blankets years later and we thought we had died and gone to Heaven. Then the problem was forcing ourselves out of bed in the mornings.  


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