Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Where Are the Warm Days of Years Past



This year is one in which I am looking forward to warmer weather. One weather forecaster in Kansas City is calling for winter to hang around until at least the vernal equinox. Judging from the kind of weather we have been having, this spring (April especially) looks like it will be an active one when I only want clear skies and quiet nights.

My son tells me that he likes winter and doesn't mind having it continue for a while longer. I remember feeling the same way when I was much younger. Winter used to be my favorite season. The winters I knew in Maryland, in Turkey, and in England while I was growing up didn't prepare me for the winters I experienced when I moved to Kansas. My second winter in Kansas I rented a one-bedroom house in Concordia that had drafty windows and doors, no heating except for an old fashioned gas stove in the kitchen, and virtually no insulation. Although I added plastic sheeting to the windows, that preventive measure didn't make the house any warmer. I spent most of my evenings sitting next to that gas stove. Because I had almost no bedding of my own, a friend also gave me a blanket that he had gotten from the hospital where he worked. The year before I had rented a studio apartment that came supplied with bedding.

Probably my coldest winter was the year that I spent living in a basement in Manhattan. The upstairs tenant had control over the thermostat. He used to go away for the weekend and leave the thermostat at what seemed like a low setting. Fortunately, the landlord lived nearby and adjusted the thermostat for me a few times. He also bought a portable baseboard heater that helped in the evenings when I was sitting at the kitchen table and grading essays as a graduate teaching assistant or writing essays for my own classes.

While living in Oklahoma, I left my office window open in the winter so that I could let a fan pull the cigarette smoke outside. I didn't want to expose my wife to my secondhand smoke. Fortunately, I quit smoking during our second winter in Oklahoma. Shutting the window made my office so much more pleasant. The landlord also installed central heating in that house the following year. My 16th year as a nonsmoker went virtually unnoticed on January 22, by the way.