I’m traveling from Poland to NC today, and from the feel of things I’m getting out of town right in the nick of time. After what was an unusually mild start to the season, winter arrived with a vengeance this past week, with the mercury hitting -17 Celsius at one point (and not budging much since).

Ceramic Heating OvenMinus 17 Celsius (right around 1 degree Fahrenheit) would be pretty unheard of in central NC.  So I’m expecting to feel like I’m in the tropics when I touch down late this afternoon (don’t let me down Carolina!).

When I’m in Poland, I have electric heating, and also an old ceramic oven that burns coal or wood. I hadn’t had a great reason to use it this season, unfortunately, but it’s a treat to burn a few logs on frosty days.

The ceramic oven (called “piec kaflowy” in Polish, pronounced pyets kaff-loh-vih) is an old technology that was once very common in buildings in Poland (my building dates to 1930).

You don’t see them much nowadays, and many people tear them out when renovating, seeing them as space-eaters.  Some are quite ornate, but mine is fairly plain, as you can notice by these photos.

Polish Ceramic OvenLast month we had a brief look at the various ways Amish keep warm, which includes heating stoves, kerosene heaters, and propane and natural gas heat.

While thoughts are on the thermostat I also wanted to point your attention to “The Life of a Coal Stove“, an amusing article by Viola at the Amish Workshops site, written from the perspective of, well, a coal stove:

Sometimes though they forget to empty my ash pan and then I can hardly breathe, much less heat any amount of space. At other times they forget to adjust my so-called thermostat properly and boy do I get mad! All that air rushing into my head gets me riled! I release huge amounts of heat and all the human beings around me start shedding their layers of clothing and are busy opening windows.

Amish Workshops CoalOf the more conventional methods of heating, be it running a coal stove, kerosene heater, or central heating, every degree up on the thermometer means burning more $.  So putting on an extra sweater and making a mug of something warm can be a good way of getting through cold shocks without shocking the pocketbook.

Come to think of it, I guess there are lots of ways to keep warm.  We still haven’t mentioned treadmill running, eating habanero peppers, or moving to Florida, for that matter.  Although I think I’d enjoy all three of those, I don’t know how practical they’d be over the long haul.

So how has your winter been?  And how do you keep your toes from freezing?

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