Monday, December 28, 2015

Furnaces and Hot Water Heaters . . .

View off my back deck.
It's cold outside. Like, really cold. And there's a ton of snow. It's been a few days since our huge storm, and the snow is still piled up on our deck as though it just fell.

My husband likes to go out and take walks in the mornings. He just came in, his cheeks red, his lips a little frosty. I sent him in to go take a warm shower. Within minutes, he was back, looking much better.

This is just one of the many things I'm grateful for in this modern age - we have indoor plumbing, warm water, and furnaces. Many houses are still equipped with fireplaces, but those are mostly to supplement our furnaces or even just to decorate, and we aren't dependent on them for our heat or cooking.

Back in the day, on a morning like this, if my husband wanted a warm bath after a walk, first would come the task of collecting enough water. It's cold enough outside that the water would probably be frozen over, and that might put a halt to the idea right there.

Photo courtesy of
Saying it was possible to get the water (probably by hacking at the ice with an ax), it would then be melted in a pot and then poured into the bathtub. Filling even a small tin bathtub like the one pictured would take several pots of water. In fact, just talking about it is wearing me out - sorry, honey. You'll just need to use a pitcher and washbasin. Much easier.

And I can't even imagine what it would be like trying to do laundry in those conditions. It was hard enough to do laundry back then - hauling the water, heating it, then scrubbing it in a huge tub against a washboard, often with caustic soaps. But when water was even harder to obtain because of the weather? It must have been a nightmare.

Photo courtesy of
I found this painting depicting wash day in Finland. If she falls through the ice while rinsing out her husband's socks . . . yeah, that would be pretty bad. I imagine that housewives begrudged every bit of laundry that went into their baskets and winced every time one of their children smeared jam on their shirts. My laundry room is heated, and I never even have to touch the water. I'm feeling so particularly spoiled right now.

Yes, I might think that driving through snow is a pain and I might dislike paying the heating bills. Winter's not an easy season. But I'm sure glad I'm not trying to survive winter like the pioneers had to. Although, I admit that taking a sleigh ride does sound like an awful lot of fun.
Amelia C. Adams' most recent releases are Hope: Bride of New Jersey and Tabitha: Bride of Missouri. You can learn more about Amelia at her website, and Happy New Year! 


  1. You covered the water, laundry and bath/shower, issue very well. We do have it relatively easy. Helen Hunt Jackson had one of the first homes in Colorado Springs with an indoor bath facilities in the mid-1870's. Even at that, the work seems pretty time consuming. Doris McCraw/Angela Raines-author.

  2. I agree, Amelia. I am so grateful for modern conveniences!

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