Was that the line-storm?

By Marion Tucker-Honeycutt | Apr 03, 2014

The first line of Robert Frost’s poem “A Line-Storm Song” reads: “the line-storm clouds fly tattered and swift … “

We certainly had a day of that last week with the high winds screaming overhead, and cutting us in two with its arctic cold. But fortunately, the snow portion of the storm scooted out to sea before reaching us, so I guess that would be a ‘half-line-storm?”

I always look forward to the spring line-storm as it does, indeed, seem to draw a line between winter and spring. The definition is: “A violent storm or a series of storms of rain and wind believed to take place during the equinoxes.” The spring line-storm breaks winter’s back and, even though we will still get more cold weather, rain and even snow, the deep cold is over. We always get two “Easter Storms” of about 4-inches of snow — “poor man’s fertilizer” — but I don’t mind them because the snow is usually melted away the next day. And every day gets a bit warmer.

These are the days the furnace doesn’t run all day — and half the night. Indeed, these are the days when two or three fill ups in the wood stove will do the job. I burn the wood stove in the fall and spring but when the cold gets deep, it takes too much wood for this ole lady to handle. So when winter gets going in earnest, I turn on the furnace.

And boy, did winter get “earnest” this year! It just never let up. I read it was the coldest winter in 120-something years. I’ll buy that. It would have been even worse had we not dodged several bullets with some predicted storms that ended up pushing off either up through western Maine or on out to sea before getting to us.

By the end of February, folks' oil tanks were running dry; kindling wood was scarcer’n hen’s teeth; dry stove wood even scarcer; and the season’s heating budget was spent.

I picked up an infrared quartz heater on sale for half price and ran it during the day for about 10 days. It claims to heat up to 1,000 square feet. That may be stretching it, but I don’t heat my office or bedroom, so it worked reasonably well. In a nice oak cabinet, it’s on wheels and I pull it up behind my computer chair, pointed towards me in my little corner of the dining area where I work with my laptop in the winter. It keeps my little corner toasty and if I go to watch TV or read in the living room, I roll it in there, facing my chair. If the thermostat is on 70 when I turn on the heater, it keeps the heat up. Near as I can figure, it cost me, in electricity, about $30 to run for a third of a month — which would be about $90 per month. Not great, but less than oil or propane in the dead of winter. It wouldn’t carry the load as the sole source of heat, but it’s a good backup.

When I first bought my house out here, heating oil was about $1 per gallon. My house is well insulated and with only oil, takes an average of 500 gallons per season; ergo $500 a year.

As oil kept climbing, I got a wood stove to supplement with. If I were younger and sprightlier, I’d use wood exclusively because the heat is so much friendlier and even. But I do use it in the fall and again in the spring. And I thank God I have it because 500 gallons of oil these days would be almost $2,000 for the season.

At that price, I’d have to close off all the rooms but the bathroom and heat only it - and sleep in the tub.

Meanwhile, I’m hoping last weeks storm was our spring line-storm.

P.S. Another way to help keep the heat up in the house, and the furnace not running so constantly, is to light some kerosene lamps. They put out a very hot, constant heat and really do help with heating. Indeed, if you ran out of oil, two lamps in each room will keep the heat up — a good trick to remember should you run out of oil or have a power outage in the middle of the night.

Marion Tucker-Honeycutt, an award winning columnist, is a graduate of Belfast now living in Morrill.

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