Many people in Wisconsin are “getting tired of winter” this year: the “polar vortex” has kept temperatures closer to zero this month than has been the case in recent years. “Where’s the global warming when we need it?”
Rather than burn more fossil fuels than usual, we have redoubled our efforts this month to do a number of things we have done in the past:
1. Dress in layers. Winter clothes are not for outdoors only! Our ancestors lived for thousands of years without central heating and most of us can actually thrive with indoor temperatures in the low 60s (or even in the 50s if we are kneading bread or scrubbing floors!) as long as we have dressed in layers. The furnace can be turned on for company or set in the mid 60s if physical activity is minimal. Because my bald head loses heat so easily, I LOVE wearing hooded shirts and seatshirts–color-coordinated with the feast or season of course 🙂
2. Tap into the energy of the sun every second that it appears: OPEN the curtains and shades on the south side of the house and keep the drapes and shades drawn on the north side of the house (unless the wood-burning stove and sun have raised the temperature above 70 degrees). Then, as soon as the sun begins to set, close up the south side of the house again to keep in the heat. With a good southern exposure on even the coldest days, the sun seems to keep the house in the 60s even when there is no fire in the wood-burning stove.
3. Keep a low fire going in the wood-burning stove and set soup pots and anything else that needs to simmer right on top. I cooked a 1.25 cups of wild rice (picked by one of my students and his grandfather on their reservation in northern Wisconsin last Fall) in 3 cups of chicken broth and a huge pot of pumpkin soup (we still have 10 pumpkins left from the garden) this afternoon with a low fire heating the entire house.
4. It may look tacky to visitors, but I have been hanging laundry to dry on wracks in the living room and at the top of the stairs where the wood-burning stove and the super dry air work almost as fast as the sun and a nice breeze in mid-July on the outside clothesline. Every bit of humidity helps — and the clean scent of eco-friendly laundry soap helps create the illusion that the house is cleaner than it actually is.
5. If you do not have a wood-burning stove or solar panels, it is still possible to dress in layers and take advantage of the January-February Sun’s location in the sky if you have a southern exposure. There is no better place to read recipes or sustainability handbooks than sitting in the sun where you can sneak a peak at the birds visiting the feeders.