The atomic clock display reads 12 degrees farenheit outside our humble abode in Boone, North Carolina. It is that time of year when no matter how much wood you throw at the stove, it’s hard to keep it above 70 degrees inside the house.
When the wind blows it is even harder.
But we have come a long way.
During the time we lived in Ashe County (1978-1985) in an old house that had been built before they discovered insulation, when the wind blew we could see a candle wick in the middle of our living room move. We had a big stove in the living room that was attached to the chimney and a wood cook stove in the kitchen that had its own flue.
There were times when we had to close every door to the living room and bring a table into the middle of the room in order to have dinner and not freeze. Every nook and cranny let the air from the outside in and since we didn’t own the home, we choose to put up with it and wait it out. Insulation was an expensive proposition.
For the first five years we lived in our “dream house” rent was free. All I had to do was get the place back into the shape it had been in before it had been abandoned. That meant putting glass in the windows, getting running water, re-building the porch, restoring the electcric service and so forth.
After two years we had our first child and it was hard during the winter keeping everything warm.
I remember a Christmas when the electricity went out about 10 am in the morning. It got to 25 below zero that day. We were supposed to prepare the turkey for the Christmas dinner that was planned for later in the day. We put the bird in the pot and put the pot on the wood stove and let it cook. We didn’t have any lights, but we did have a way to cook the food that we would take to our inlaws later in the day. It was a challenge, but we persevered and everything turned out alright. The lights came back on at about eight o’clock that evening. It was just another day in Ashe County history.
One of my memories from this time is a very cold winter day when the wind had all but quit blowing and there was about 6 inches of fluffy white snow on the ground. We lived on 100 acres of land which in turn was surrounded by several hundred acres of property that was wooded and hilly. There had been logging trails cut through the hills in years past and Sandi and I would take long walks all year round on them.
After a big snow, it was always fun to explore this “Snow White” world—which in reality had become much different than its non-snow apperance. Most of these trails were protected from the wind which in turn created an eerie quality as we explored them. Sometimes it was almost like a snow tunnel had been cut through the forest for us—leading us into another place in time—a place long before electricity and other modern conveniences. Of course, we could always go back to our house and stand around the wood stove. I even had several Aladdin lamps that we occasionally had to bring out when the power would go off.
The time I am refering to is the late seventies and early eighties. If you have been around this long, you will know that these really were kinder-gentler times. Not that there weren’t stresses and stuff to put up with—there were plenty. Maybe it was the fact of being younger with a lot of years ahead of us that made the difference. Of course, living in Ashe County, North Carolina was a big factor—it being the one county in NC that had the most unpaved roads and was considered by many to be the most rural county in the state. Not that there weren’t “rural” areas in Watauga, and Alleghany counties as well. But most Ashe Countians said that when God created North Carolina he started in Ashe county and what he had left over he used to create the other 99 counties in the state.
And Sandi and I believed them. We spent many happy hours and days roaming around places that we discovered. The times we canoed the New River are some of the best times I can remember.
We still take our walks, but they are most likely on paved roads these days. We have been known to venture out on a 20 degree day but not all that often.
I still like the seasons—all four of them. If I had my way, winter would last about a month and I would add a month or two to both spring and fall. That way the skiers could do their thing and the economy would flourish and we’d all have more time outdoors to enjoy this great area we live in.
Enjoy the ride!