Friday, November 21, 2008

A hard, cold, autumn day

It's been nearly two weeks since I posted last. Between some travel and returning to work to attend to all the tasks that come with the busiest weeks of the year, I have had little chance to think about Eddie's Wake and Karl, Maggie, Jacob, Will and Bernie.

When I awoke this morning, I had kicked off all the covers. I was too warm; had put too many blankets on the bed and the furnace was running, toasting up the house. I checked the indoor/outdoor thermometer, which read 67 degrees inside; 10 degrees outside. The absence of our four cats waiting for breakfast on the deck indicated that they were still hunkered down in their cat "houses." The water in their outside bowl was frozen solid. Why would they want to come out, even if the sun was shining?

I think about the people who don't have a warm place to sleep, and I think about people who have no idea what it would be like to have a thermostat that can be programmed to start the furnace before they get out of bed in the morning. Even though I like it cool in the bedroom for sleeping, and even though I was too warm when I woke up this morning, I am thankful for the roof over my head and a new furnace with a programmable thermostat.

In Eddie's Wake "feeding the furnace" was the first thing Karl was expected to do every morning. From the coal pile in the basement, he shoveled in enough to warm the house at least through breakfast. When his mother, Maggie, needed to save money, she didn't feed the furnace on school days until it was almost time for Karl, Lizzie and Anna to come home. Having coal in the basement was almost important as having food on the table.

The Salvation Army operates a shelter and food pantry in the community where I work. Whenever a man, woman, boy or girl leaves, they are given their own blanket and their own pillow, warmth and comfort for a new life. I think I will go through closets today and find the blankets we're not using and maybe give them away.

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