Thursday, December 16, 2010

Doors and other lost bits of technology

We, like much of the country, have had an early taste of deep winter.  Our day time highs have been at or below the "normal" lows for this time of year.  Staying warm has been on every one's mind.  For us part of staying warm in the winter involves keeping the doors closed.  I'm not talking about the outside doors (though with two active kids and their new dogs that is sometimes a challenge...)  Our house is blessed with doors on every room.  I mean EVERY room, even the tiny hallway that is almost wall to wall doors.  We bought this house knowing we had to to a whole house remodel.  We had sketched out some grand plans even before we closed.  Fortunately, we had sense enough to not borrow extra money and do it all at once.  We are 6 years in to it and still have three rooms to go (and the stairs, and the porch, and...)  BUT, living in the space has given us a chance to learn and to rethink.  Doors, for example, were initially on the removal list (not all of them, we do need some privacy..., but most)  Our 1890's house had doors closing off every room.  They got in the way, and made a mess of the traffic flow and the conversation.  You couldn't see the TV from the kitchen.  Etc.  But, after living in our collection of small rooms (most 12 x 12 or smaller) and heating with wood, we have discovered the reason for all the doors.  They close spaces off, separating them for different uses, different temperatures, different seasons, or even different times of day.  Originally our house had three chimneys.  These were strategically located in different, closeable parts of the house.  They served different purposes in daily life.  Being able to close those rooms and leave them cold (or cooler)makes it much easier to heat with wood.  Removing those doors and opening up the space would make this impossible.  Now, when it is cold out we close down parts of the house (especially on the northwest side of the house) and all snuggle around the wood stove where it is warm.  It is cosy and we enjoy being together.  If you want more space/separation there are other rooms.  They are quite and cooler.  You can take your book and a quilt and disappeared into the silence. If it is too cold you can lay in a second fire (of course that is an invitation for company)

Some other bits around here we are trying to revive are the cistern (we have a 5' x 5 'x 20' stone cistern by the back porch with water 16 feet deep in it.  Just needs a pump, a filter, and someone brave enough to crawl down in there and check things out...), and the summer kitchen.  Both of these will make life on our small sustainably oriented farm work better.

Weird how we go forward by stepping back...
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