My Old Florida Heater

According to the almanac, which ever one it was that I saw it in, we do get a “winter”.

It is all of two weeks long.

Or as a good friend of mine is fond of saying:  We do get all of the seasons here, just not the ones that stink.

Change that last word to something maybe a little more harsh for accuracy.  Four letters, still starts with an S.

Yeah, that one.

But it is two weeks long.

My own Cherry Hill, NJ would descend into Fall somewhere around mid October, Freezing temperatures in December, but sometimes not until New Years.

Give or take a bit.

It would warm up to spring in late April, and by June we were in the mid to upper 80s.

If Memory Serves Me Right.

With Global Warming, that may be shorter, you’ll have to ask someone who stayed behind.

Yes, there is Global Warming, No, being a Republican does not excuse you from that.

The weather up there gave me a lot of time to be indoors.  After all, you didn’t really want to be out in all that cold slop did you?

We had a house with a gas heater.  It was about as tall as a full grown man, so to my childhood size, it was big.  There were six large burners in it that ran front to back, and were about three feet long.  Just shy of a meter.

When it kicked off, it would FWOOMPF! and light up solid from the back to front.  There was a port hole that fascinated me as a kid because Bright! and Hot!, Daddy! 

To me a heater should be that big.  Especially something meant to heat up a split level home.  Those houses weren’t all that efficient to heat or cool.

But down here I hear rumors of some hearty souls that brave our long two week long Winters and month long Spring and Autumn, yes, you guessed it, Without A Heater!

Hey, it gets all the way down to 34 here!

When they replaced our heating and cooling the other day, I took the chance to take some pictures.  The pictures came only when I looked in and was surprised just how little things were.

That picture is actually my entire heater. 


It’s about six inches square.  Look at the palm of your hand and spread your fingers as wide as you can get them.  About that big.

That’s all.  Two layers of “resistance heating”. 

I think I have had floor heaters that were larger.  You know, those things that women would stash under their desks in office buildings because they have already put on three sweaters and it’s cold in there will youturnupTHAT DAMN HEAT!

Those women.  Five minutes later and they’re complaining it’s too hot.

But here, that dinky little six inch square of wires?  That’s it.  That heats my house.  1200 square feet, a whole 110 square meters.  Two bedrooms, 1 bath. 

I was fascinated by it like a Great Dane would be with a Kitten.

A KITTEN!????  Awwwww!

Yes, a heater, er a kitten.

Merry Chrismoose

If you look around at what you have, you may find yourself amused by what you keep with you.  What gives the most pleasure may be something simple because of the memories attached to the item.  An item of that sort of sentimentality may be worthless otherwise, but you have a life enriched by having them.

Of all of the things we collected in our life, I found myself looking at this scrap of cloth, deeply worn by use, and smiling.  The improbability that what is now a rag would have made it this far over the decades is something quite surprising.  More surprising is that I had given it this much thought.

We had boxed everything we wanted to save.  The basement of our almost 2000 square foot house on top of the hill in the Greene Countrye Towne of William Penn was full.  It became our Box Farm.  First we emptied the basement.  Then we cleaned it for the first time in years, properly.  Raising so much debris that we had had to put an exhaust fan on full blast to draw the air out of it, we swept, vacuumed, and dusted.

The North side of the basement filled.  Boxes collected there and under the stairs, as well as finally on the South side.  More than 200 boxes to be moved to Florida.

Somehow this scrap of cloth made it.

It is half of a towel that we kept for the holidays.  A dish towel in reality, it was never really notable, but it gave me a smile.  A gift from my sister, she knew that I’d be amused by it.  My attraction to Moose was always a source of amusement to me and my friends, despite never having actually met one.  I’m given figurines, statues, plush animals, and this towel.

It got a tear in it along the way and at some point it ended up getting sliced in two.  I may actually have that other piece somewhere, wadded up in a ball most likely. 

Who knows?  But there it was that laundry day.  Sorted out from the socks and towels and sheets on the Hot Wash Load, I separated it out and left it on the big green chair.  Taking the rest of the load up in my hands, I looked back at it and smoothed it out on the chair.

Stopping and staring at it, I thought of my sister, her family – husband and son, still in their home in New Jersey, living their own suburban life.  The green prairies of South Jersey are carved up into small plots with their Wonder Years homes, neat and tidy, in the land of Nice White People, 2.3 kids, and two cars.  Warm and comforting life in one of the ten best cities of the country to live in, and it always has been for as long as anyone can remember, Cherry Hill, New Jersey.  When the survey said you could pick it or any of the neighboring towns as number one, I understood why.

It made it all the way here, improbably, to my chair in the little house, on the quirky little island, in the Florida sun, to remind me of the journey and that all that wander are not lost.

We all have our own collections.  Things that make us happy.  Things that make others scratch their heads and wonder why.  Usually they are quite worthless, perhaps worn down or worn out.  They’ll be tossed away by someone with the detritus of life when the time comes.  They are the definition of ephemera, something that is designed to fade away with time.

But for now, enjoy what they mean to you, and enjoy the secret smile that comes from having a life worth remembering.