heat (friday foto finder)


This is the gas heater from my grandmother’s house, in the mountains of Colorado.

I took this photo in 2004. (It was years after my grandmother died, when my mother lived in the house. But in my memory, it is always my grandmother’s house.) This visit was in August, so the heat was off.

I wish I had photos of it lit, so I could show you the gas flames.

I wish I could share with you the pictures in my head of my sister and I huddled in front of the heater on cold winter mornings.

The house was an old one, with the merest nods to insulation. It had been originally built as a summer house, and then enlarged to become a year-round home. My memories of the house are warm, but in the winter most of the house was cold. The room my sister and I shared upstairs, on visits to our grandmother and for the one year when we lived with her, had a smaller gas heater in it, a wall unit that connected to our grandmother’s room next door. That heater was rarely lit, though, and mornings (especially mornings) in the bedrooms were cold. Frost-on-the-window-panes cold. I remember getting up out of the cozy double bed my sister and I shared (the bed that had once belonged to my great grandmother), climbing out from under the blankets and heavy comforter, and emerging into the chill of the bedroom. We’d rush downstairs, seeking out the relative warmth (and the house’s only bathroom). We’d sit on the floor in our nightgowns those cold dark mornings right in front of the heater, bathed in its warmth and glow. I remember leaning back against the short hallway wall the heater faced, and stretching out with icy hands or feet to warm my fingers and toes, holding them as close to the heater as I dared, my eyes transfixed by the glowing patterns of the ceramic grates and the dancing blues and oranges of the flickering gas flames.


This rather chilly post was brought to you by this week’s prompt for friday foto finder: heat. Please go see what heat others have to share.

p.s. I just noticed that my post title read “friday foot finder,” thanks to autocorrect. This makes me giggle, but I have changed it anyhow.¹

¹ Really, this needed to be a footnote.

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12 responses to “heat (friday foto finder)

  1. OMG I had a similar heater here in Sevilla until just a few years ago. A gas canister (bombona) fit into the back and the panel in front lit up with flames giving off quite a good amount of heat. They are also dangerous unless you have proper ventilation (my draughty balcony windows made things safe enough) and every year people die from falling asleep with their gas heater on in a room with all the doors and windows shut tight.

    Here is my heat…
    http://azahar.me/2012/08/24/friday-foto-finder-heat/

  2. That is very similar to the heaters we had here in Australia. Throwing out lots of heat in a carbon-careless world, they also had their dangers as Az has said :)

    Ahhh, the memories – cold winter’s night, lying on bean-bags in front of the heater, listening to Tangerine Dream’s “Phaedra” and smoking – umm – oh yes, I did so inhale! :)

  3. Love both the photo, and the memories that go with it. Very evocatively written!

  4. I also love the new footnotes! (fotonotes?)

  5. Love the memories!

    We had two gas wall heaters in the bathroom until our gas line broke last year. They had to come out before our gas could be turned back on…no longer up to code!

    • Well, I suppose given what others have said about the dangers of gas heaters, it’s probably a good thing that you had to replace your old ones, Kyla. Yikes! (And no fun about the gas line breaking. I remember that. It was due to the exceedingly dry ground, wasn’t it?)

      And glad you enjoyed the memories!

  6. When I was in my early teens, we lived in an old farmhouse with big windows and little or no insulation. It was on a creek, sandwiched between an old fashioned mill and a horse pasture. Lovely setting but oh so cold in winter. I would see my breath in my bedroom and no matter how many layers I had on, I always felt cold in winter. I used to love to go to school and lean on the steam radiators…

    • Thanks for sharing those memories, too, V-Grrrl. So evocative.

      It often seems so wasteful to me how hot people tend to keep places in the winter, especially after growing up in leaner times. Not that I want to see my breath in my bedroom, exactly, but I don’t want to feel hot if I’m wearing a sweater!

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