being a rich man…


Originally uploaded by jayfherron

I found this morning being frozen….inspiring me to keep on working towards hooking this old wood stove up for heat!

The temperature here was 21 F.
In my bedroom it was 42-thank goodness the heater in the kitchen kept it that high…it is too dangerous to keep a heater glowing in the bedroom-not enough space and a fire would be for certain.

I have an electric blanket that substitutes for a space heater-over that I throw a huge furniture movers pad,it keeps it warm. It is the sudden jar of the morning that brings back the uncomfortable…but God also shows me what a rich man I am.

I am thankful for the knowledge.

In 1975 when we first came out to these woods-there was nothing. We had an orange pup tent for two adults and two toddlers.

The first few months we lived in that tent-but over the period I managed to carry home enough scrap wood to build a shelter-a room 12′ by 16′ and our first roof was a blue and yellow tarp. And a wood stove for a heater.

It has been 30 some odd years now living out here. Same spot-most of that time-we did begin on the hill up the road with no running water or electric power,we carried water home in jugs-a kerosene lamp was the light. Now instead of a shack with a tarp for a roof is this dilapidated old mobile home-the subject of many attempts for renovation…actually most likely the longest renovation in history. There are still places the wall needs closing in,and the windows in the front still don’t close. There isn’t even a front door knob. There is still a wood stove which I believe is more inspired to be hooked up today more than any project ever has been.

I am so thankful for the way it began out here…poor,no transportation,and not even a house. Campfires made a huge difference-the cabin we built was kept warm enough by the heat of the wood stove but the space to stretch out was limited by the space taken by the wood stove. So an outside fire became just as important and we could stand up or sit down or even lay by the fire to stay warm.

After too many days of this kind of heat you begin to smell like smoke and your hands become covered with soot. There is nowhere to wash up when you have no running water-although we were rich enough to have a barrel to store some water,it was still to cold to really get clean. Feeling oily was a way of life-an embarrassing way of life.

I just came back to the keyboard from making a cup of coffee.  My room has heated up to around 50F- the kitchen is not much warmer. Every water faucet in the house is dripping at a slow flow-this to keep the pipes from freezing up and bursting,usually an annual problem. Glory be that it isn’t like the old days-all the water in a drum.

Right now while I am sitting here-sipping coffee and under a roof,I know there are hundreds of people right this moment fighting to stay warm. They aren’t going to a kitchen to get a cup of coffee to sip on…and are not going to complain that it is no warmer in there than it is in here.

I admit-I am nearing age 60,and doing this chore of plugging up holes and blocking the undersides of doors and fighting to stay warm is getting old like me.Our bodies are already knotted up from age to be trying to tighten them up further by trying to stay warm.

I think of the people who congregate down in the national forest (Ocala National Forest). A society of homeless that call themselves the ‘rainbow family’ (or some such). You begin to see them migrating to the forest in mid-October and they spend the winter going from one campground to another staying ahead of the forestry service rules of camping restricted to two-week intervals. You need to go deep in the woods-and you find them. A very haunting sight. And I wonder to how in the world they make it through nights like last night-and the nights we’ve had all week?

It makes you humble to have had the same type of lifestyle and to understand what it does feel like to work all night to keep a fire going only sleeping in a half doze while sitting up lest you go to sleep and the fire dies.

And I am  thankful God made me so rich.

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