Monday, January 13, 2014

How did they do it?

Ana wonders aloud:

The US just endured a brutally cold spell, and due to its location, Minnesota was in the deepest freeze. Daytime high temperatures of minus twenty, nighttime lows of forty below. Plus wind, for extra chill.
The local adage is military: adapt and overcome, but that's hard when heaters fail.

I'd had the blower on our heat storage unit refurbished last fall, but it failed on New Year's Eve. Just as the cold was building. The electrician didn't call back until 3 pm. The warehouse for the part had closed by the time he called to order a new one. We had to wait.

We turned the basement heat to full blast. Positioned a fan to blow warm air upstairs. Huddled in the bedroom under blankets. When I ventured out to check emails (at my desk located next to the usually toasty heater) my fingertips turned numb. 45 degrees.

Compounding the misery, the water line to the barn froze. We had cold, thirsty cows needing water. After work, we filled 5-gallon buckets in the bathtub, hauled them outside, poured into old cream cans, and repoured into the stock tanke a mile down the road. We turned on every portable heater in the milkhouse and pumphouse, trying to thaw the line--which had already withstood minus 35, but not sustained.

We got colder and wetter. And waited. A week later a new heater blower was installed. The next morning, the well driller put a new pump on the well. Water flowed.

How did artists create in cold weather? Write with gloves? Paint by moonlight?

Come to think of it, Matisse and other great painters hied to tropical and Mediterranean climes.
Laptops are portable with wifi. Too bad I can't relocate.


  1. I can't even begin to imagine temperatures as low as those, as it never gets as cold as that here. In fact, so far we have had a fairly mild winter (but with lots of gales and rain). So glad you eventually managed to get your heater repaired!

  2. Wow, that's cold. We were really cold here, but nothing compared to you. We were probably -10 at the worst. I have no idea how artists did things in the old days. Gives me a new appreciation for modern, working amenities.

    Glad you're warm and toasty now!

  3. We were cold here too, but our actual temps didn't get as low as yours. We were in the minus single digits with wind chills in the minus forties. Brrr.

    I always wonder about how any people way back when made it through things like this. With just the fire to heat electricity, no running water. I can't even imagine.

  4. When I was younger (!), there was no central heating, just one electric fire in the living room. I remember trying to do my homework in my bedroom and my writing was all squiggly because my fingers were numb!