Keeping Warm

I remember the patched holes in the celing, one in each room. I didn’t think much about them.

It was the house my grandmother lived in, the one where my father was born. I spent a lot of my childhood visiting. Small-town Ontario was a different world for an urban dweller.

The holes, I realized, were from where the ducts had gone from the wood stove that used to be in the kitchen, back before the family had electricity. The stove was used for cooking and heating bath water, and the ducts brought warmth to the rest of the house in those cold Canadian winters.

I remember visiting relatives who still had the giant wood stoves dominating their kitchens. Change can sometimes come slowly to rural areas.

The memories came back earlier this week when I visited the Ukrainian Cultural Village in the Edmonton area. This open-air museum gives a glimpse into the lives of pioneers a century ago.

Several of the farmsteads had the type of stoves I remember from my childhood. They triggered a feeling of nostalgia, a wish for simpler times.

Back in the early 1960s, the time when I was visiting relatives on their farms and first saw this type of stove, I was a kid with no responsibilities. The problems of the world I left to the adults – I was usually oblivious of what was going on around me. But not completely.

There were terrorist attacks back then and presidential assasinations that impinged on my childhood. I remember seeing election campaign signs some years.

Mostly though, life was carefree. Children were free to be children.

Seeing these stoves brought back those memories.

What are you remembering from your childhood right now?

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