Heading Out

Seeking the winds that help to sail on Shakespeare's tide.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

A small confession

I am reading Paul Roberts book "The End of Oil" and have reached Chapter 6 where he is talking about the growth in energy demand in China. He writes:

"In my village,"recalled one peasant, "when a girl was preparing to marry, the first thing the parents checked was, will the back wall of the would-be son-in-law be white or not? If not white, they approved the marriage, because this meant his family was wealthy enough to keep the house warm."
The implication being that the house got so cold that ice formed on the walls. I am not sure that I totally believe this, based on some personal experience. My mother comes from a small village in Scotland where her family were the village blacksmiths. Both her father and only brother died in the Second World War leaving the two girls and my grandmother to fend for themselves. They kept the house, but I can remember being driven up in the summer to go out into a peat bog and dig peat(illegally I am sure) and take it back to stack in the outdoor privy so that they could burn it in the one fireplace they had in the living room, and so that they would have heat in the winter. You had to stack it then so that it would dry out by winter, and it gave a wonderful steady glow that I still remember. The house was not centrally heated and still only has baseboard heat. We kept warm at night with lots of blankets which caused two nights of great distress when we took an 18-month old Advocate there and he had never slept save under the lightest of covers. Generally ice would form on the inside of windows etc., but unless they were using ice as a final seal to stop air leaks into the house, it sounds more like a story for a tourist.

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