I knew it was morning. The large red numbers on the bedside clock indicated that it was after 7.
There was light filtering through the shutters, a cold grey dawning of the day.
I heaved myself from under a great pile of slumberous cats and padded along the hallway to peer out the windows.
I trudged to the basement and stoked the furnace, adding slabs of wood to glowing coals.
I dished out cat breakfast, scooped coffee into the machine and flicked the switch.
And then....I scurried back to the bedroom, opened the top shutters and huddled under a heap of quilts waiting for the coffee to perk and the furnace to belch warm air.
Outside, hard little pellets of snow were flung on a bitter wind.
They rattled onto the dried heads of sedum and nestled among
The wind was from the north, promising a cold day.
The glossy leaves and scarlet berries of nandina glow bravely in a landscape that seems huddled and waiting to be buffeted.
Inside today we have kept both fires going---the livingroom fireplace--
and the squatly efficient "furnace" in the nearly finished family room in the basement.
We spent nearly two months looking for a suitable woodburning stove.
We needed one which would hold enough wood to burn most of a night, have a removable ash pan, and an electric fan.
We looked both locally and on-line, finding many which were rather stylish, but not practical.
"Burton's Tin Shop" housed in a dilapidated building just off the courthouse square had the best assortment of stoves we had seen.
This one, previously owned, has the features we need.
J. has thoughts of removing one of the heat diffusers on the top and piping it into the existing ductwork.
We took our coffee mugs down to the warm room--which utterly confounded the cats--
and sat there cozily, sipping, talking, planning.
Later while J. went out to feed Pebbles, I made a breakfast of potato cakes,
with "flatiron steaks" from the creature who used to be known [not so fondly]
The flurries of snow didn't stick to the ground. I was outside briefly during the afternoon and noted that the temperature was 36 F.
The sun tried to break through but was defeated by a sky full of wind-driven clouds.
A low of 17 F is predicted for tonight, the coldest night thus far.
The wood fires, although they require tending, are a tangible and visible source of lively heat.
We have been sustained by hot spiced tea, a thick and hearty stew.
[J. kindly dug carrots from the garden, washed them under the hose and gave them a preliminary scrape.]
Hot, simple food, warm quilts, layers of snuggling felines--what more could we need for a cold winter's day and night?