January 18, 2022

COLUMN: Warm feelings

When walking out of church after Christmas Eve services, it still didn’t feel like it was Dec. 24.

It felt more like November 24.

A week prior, during the strong winds that blew through Dec. 15, that was more of something to experience in a summer month, not December. There should have been snow and much colder temperatures. It was December. If that would have happened, it would have been a historic blizzard. I wasn’t that cold standing on the north side of town in a light jacket shooting pictures of Alliant Energy crews restoring power.

I really haven’t been cold, yet. I don’t know people who have. When talking to others about winter, I tell them I don’t mind the snow, it’s the below 0 cold I don’t like. Maybe the coldest moment for me so far was during the lighted Christmas parade. We are expected to begin 2022 with cold winter temperatures.

We’ve been spoiled too much this fall and early winter with above-average temperatures. What do you do to beat off the chills? I’ve learned how over the years.

When I was a kid, one house we lived in had radiator heat. I didn’t think much about the metal contraptions standing by the wall and hearing the occasional hiss when it warmed up. I eventually learned to throw my school clothes on them while I was at breakfast. That way when it was time to change clothes, the heated socks and jeans were a great way to start the day. Just don’t turn the heat up high. I’d like to know if radiators are still an option for new houses today.

Years later, in another house, I had another trick to stay warm. That house had a natural gas, blown air heating system. With a blanket, I would lie down beside one of the vents along the wall. There was one vent that was easier to get to than the others. My socked feet were by the vent under the blanket. The blanket would trap the heat.

As a young adult, I learned how a good pair of slippers in the winter would be just as comfortable and I would be much more mobile. Having multiple hoodies, with differences in weight, also help. The colder it is, the heavier one I wear.

For Christmas I was given a gift of a casual sweater vest to wear to the office. I always thought people in cattle or “out West” wore those things. The one I was given didn’t give me that vibe. But it did a nice job of making me comfortable when I wore it Monday.

It was hard to leave the split-level house I lived in that had a wood burning stove. The stove was on the lower level and because of the design of the house the warm air from the stove circulated well through the rest of the house. Sure, a wood burning stove does take some extra effort to find wood, cut it, if needed, and a place to store. But the effort was worth the feeling it gave.

I have lived in a houses with traditional fireplaces, but never used them. Others who lived with a fireplace encouraged me to always have the chimney cleaned and inspected every year. I never took the time to find someone to do all of that, so I didn’t use it.

I have been in buildings with geo-thermal heat and didn’t feel any different than buildings with a natural-gas furnace. The up-front cost to install geo-thermal heat is on the high side, or so I’ve been told, but it’s impressive to see the savings with the small heating bills during the winter.

Tomato soup is a good food for me to eat while cold. Hot tea, with a bit of sugar, also warms the body.

In the car, heated seats do have their benefits. I’m not sold on a heated steering wheel though.

Reminds me of the time as a kid I put my hand on the radiator after I turned it up high.

John Van Nostrand


An Iowa native, John's newspaper career has mostly been in small-town weeklies from the Rocky Mountains to the Mississippi River. He first stint in Creston was from 2002 to 2005.