Breland: Turning on the heat for cooler days

Published 12:51 pm Friday, October 22, 2021

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With the very cool mornings we have lately experienced, how long can we continue without turning on the heat for the first time? I heard you! You have already turned on the heat or lit some logs in the fireplace! It may be that time!

The only house heat we experienced while growing up was from a brick fireplace in the living room, with a wooden mantle over the top. In cold weather, we stayed close to the fireplace to stay warm. If Mom was cooking, the kitchen would also be warm from the burners being used, but otherwise the only heat came from the fireplace.

The living room was where we kept the big radio, our only entertainment. If the weather was good, the radio brought some nice entertainment, from news and music to good programs, much like television today with sound but without the video.

Bad weather brought a lot of static and noise and sometimes we couldn’t hear well enough to keep the radio on. It was frustrating to turn the dial, trying to find something we could hear. On Saturday nights, it was distressing when we couldn’t hear the Grand Ole Opry.

At the coldest times, we had to play somewhere. If the radio was off, the living room then became our playhouse. There was no “you children go to your rooms” from Mom, because the other rooms were freezing cold! No playing there unless we got in the bed and covered up.

As small children, one of our favorite activities was covering up the living room furniture with blankets and making “tents.” There, we could be hidden away with a few toys for imaginary play. The fireplace provided the needed heat and Mom replaced the wood to keep it burning.

At bedtime, the fire dimmed almost to ashes, and the next morning somebody had to get up early and start a new fire, usually either Mom or Dad.

When we were pretty small and time came to get up, Mom would heat a blanket in front of the roaring fire and come get us, one at a time, with the warm blanket wrapped around us and take us to the warm room. Long icicles were hanging from the eaves outside. We don’t see those much anymore. When Mom and Dad built another house, a fireplace was definitely in the works.

Rob and I both grew up with fireplace heat, so when we built our first house, a fireplace was a must. We used one of our designated bedrooms as a den, and our fireplace was built there by a man named Boone Miley. We had a gas heater in the living room, but the fireplace was the steady heat on which we depended. It saved on household expenses.

Wood had to be chopped and gathered and there was a fireplace shelf outside one of the windows, so getting the wood inside was handy; just open the window and reach for wood. After a hard day at work, Rob would come home to chop wood and get the shelf loaded for the next day.

Just like old times, at night the fire went out and had to be rebuilt the next morning. We usually turned the gas heater on in the mornings for added warmth.

In later years, when we constructed another house, the question was whether we would have a fireplace. We agreed to no fireplace. He was tired of gathering and cutting wood. I was working and wasn’t there to keep a fire going. Standing in front of a warm fire is a wonderful thing, but not a necessity.

I am blessed with central air and air conditioning. No fireplace for winter comfort or for Christmas stockings and no wood to gather to burn.

However, on any cold day visiting in a house with a fire in the fireplace, I will find myself standing there, warming up and exulting in the comfort and good feeling of a wood fire. There’s quite no other winter warmth to compare.

Bob Ann Breland can be reached by email at