An Ice Storm came visiting last Monday. It is now Friday and power was just restored last evening. The weather forecasters had properly warned me of the impending storm and the probable loss of electric power. So I was prepared.
I went out Monday and bought a load of hard wood, all walnut. I made a pot of coffee and put it in the refrigerator so I could warm some up in the microwave – in case the coffee pot was not working. I stopped by Blockbuster and rented some extra movies to pass the time. It felt like a pretty good disaster preparedness plan. Never underestimate the wisdom of the elderly.
Of all the goofy planning I did, the fireplace idea was probably the worst. Don’t get me wrong – I like a warm fire in the fireplace on a snowy Christmas Eve. The fire can add a great deal of holiday atmospheric value. I like it better when supplemented with a big forced air natural gas furnace. By itself, the fireplace is of little value in heating a house.
The power went out, the furnace was off, and I stoked the fire. There, I thought, take that, mother nature. The first day without power and the temperature dropped 15 degrees in my house – and I had a raging fire going all day. Sadie and I were warm, as long as we sat four feet in front of the fire. I sat looking at the fire and I could feel a cold draft on my back – the fire was gasping for air and it was sucking cold air in from anywhere in the house that was not completely airtight. The temperature in the house finally stabilized at about 48 degrees.
I suppose the real value of the fire was as an additional companion. Sadie was correct – the fire gave me something to do. The fire gave me a sense of not being totally powerless. Chopping the wood warmed me more than burning the wood. I kept busy with poking and prodding the fire, trying to maximize the heat return. Sadie stayed under a blanket. She was warmer than I was.