Monday, November 05, 2007

Preparations for the Possible Cold

Even though it was 80° F today we have been slowly preparing for the predicted cold that will supposedly come on Wednesday. Last week I installed a new dryer vent that stifles air and rodent flow. That was one of those laughable projects that should have taken 15 to 20 minutes but took all afternoon and three trips to the hardware store because our 100+ year old house is not square, straight, even, or adaptable. You would have loved to see me squirming around in the mud after I accidentally disconnected the 4" drain pipe that carries the warm, moist air from the dryer to almost the edge of the house. I suppose the house was rejecting attempts at further modernization. That sounds silly, but I do sense that this old house has life. The old wood shrinks and expands with heat and humidity almost like breathing, the breeze running through the dog trot creates energy, and the past is captured like a memory in the hand prints on the 17 foot tall ceiling that have a story of their own. Have I lost my handful of readers yet?

Anyway, I'll get back to the point -maybe. Today, the children moved the lightard, which is a Southern country word, which means the aged stump of a pine tree that is a natural one match fire starter, that I've been using forever, but that I find, just today, is not a standard word and is in no dictionary, (This is when I really crave a set of the OED, not just the miniature set, but the full encyclopedic, book case crushing set.) and small pieces of wood to the front porch. Like that sentence? Very Faulknernesque, don't you think? Since I know about lightard, which is not a dictionary word does that make me a Snopes?

Are you still with me? Tomorrow, we will close the vents to keep the cold air from underneath the house. We'll start seasoning the wood heater with small fires tomorrow, still getting ready for Wednesday night when the temperatures are supposed to dip to fire weather.

Once the temperatures dip Wednesday night they will rise to our normal once again - maybe even to shorts and tee-shirt weather until after Thanksgiving. While some of the work we have done is for winter in general, there is much work involved in preparing for a possible one night frost and I haven't even told you about garden preparations. Sometimes, I think about how easy it would be to walk to a central air and heat panel and and push a button. Yet, I think this house would have felt violated if we had cut into her old, milled on the property, heart pine, tongue and groove, bead-board walls to install vents and intakes, closed the center hall, and lived modernly in this old house. Working with the rhythms of the house and seasons and living off the dead wood on the property seems better - more difficult, but more natural and more fitting.

6 comments:

Mrs. G. said...

We have so much in common...I'm so into stifling rodent flow. You crack me up. Your house sounds so cool and I hope it keeps you toasty warm.

Kate in NJ said...

Sounds lovely. Our house is only half as old, but has a personality of it's own. We are also very into stifling rodent flow.

ZILLA said...

Google "dictionary lightard" and your post is the first hit!

So, lightard is, I gather, another name for fatwood? The high resin content of pine stump ensures a lasting flame, while regular kindling might peter out?


I fear if I had the bookcase-crushing OED I would never get to the laundry or cleaning. It's bad enough when I pick up the Webster's -- looking up "lacuna" this afternoon, I got sidetracked, and when I finally came to, I looked at the clock and discovered a large enough hole in the day to make me suspect alien abduction.

musemater said...

Twice Bloomed, I so enjoy your Faulknernesqueness! I too like to see how long and sinuous a sentence will allow me to snake it. If you ever publish your blog in a book I'll surely want to buy it. One of my personal favourite (I can't resist using the English spelling, it is too luscious a word to use standard Americanese)
Southernisms is an entry not in our too brief common dictionaries, the term, rasher,n., referring to a portion of bacon or a slice of watermelon. Like your, lightard, many old world words survived intact thru the Applachians, the Piedmont, and Savannah but fell out of modern usage to our extreme contextualizing poverty.

Angela said...

You have proven the truth in my grandmother's belief that she lived the season's os much more growing up on the farm than in the city. I suspect that was especially true during New England winters in the 20s! Enjoy the changes!

Wisteria said...

Mrs. G, We do have a much in common, including our toothpaste choice.

Zilla, You are right as usual. If I brought the OED in my house, I would never get anything done. Yet, I still long. Am I really the first hit! I'm going to look.

Angela, Don't wish a New England winter on me. My house is a bit too open for winter to truly set up housekeeping. Even though I sometimes complain, I like our late starting and short lived winter.

Musemater, Thanks! I have Southernisms flowing from me like the waters of the Mississippi River in 1927.