It is like Siberia here…or at least as we imagine Siberia; we’ve never been there. This morning, everything – trees, grass, houses – are all covered in white crystal – not snow, but thick frost.
It is colder than we are used to. France has a mild climate, generally neither as cold nor as hot as most places in America. And here, we have a big stone house, without insulation. We cannot hope to heat the whole thing, so we concentrate in a few rooms – where the radiators are turned up and fires burn in the fireplaces.
“I was cold all day long,” said Elizabeth after dinner last night. “Maybe we should go back to Paris.”
“I don’t know how your grandparents did it,” she continued after a few minutes. “They lived in a house in Maryland without electricity or central heating. It was colder there than it is here. And they had nothing to look forward too. They didn’t say to themselves… ‘Oh, next year we’ll put in central heating.’ Instead, they just lived with those wood stoves…and they must have been very cold. And they couldn’t decamp to the city…or move to Florida. After your grandfather was wiped out in the Depression, I guess they had no choice.”
Why bother to make money, dear reader? Here we have the answer: so you can get warm.
But wait…before the days of central heating, everyone must have heated with wood, coal and open fires. Surely they were not all freezing cold. It must be a question of organization and technology too.
“It probably wasn’t so bad,” we replied. “They must have had their own tricks and secrets. For example, my grandfather heated up bricks on the stove and put them in his bed to warm it up. And it must have been cozy in the kitchen where they all gathered to keep warm. And think how much they appreciated it when spring came!”