When the furnace broke in freezing weather, they were glad to have a wood burning stove and a newspaper subscription. (Jennifer Bardsley)

When the furnace broke in freezing weather, they were glad to have a wood burning stove and a newspaper subscription. (Jennifer Bardsley)

In need of a winter rescue, the newspaper delivered

When the furnace dies, “logs” of Daily Heralds stuffed with dryer lint ignite a warming fire.

“What the heck is my son doing?” I wondered at 1 a.m. on New Year’s Day. It sounded like he was tuning his guitar, or perhaps rubbing his finger around the rim of a water glass to produce an eerie sound. I fell back asleep only to be woken up to the same tone again and again. Finally, around 3 a.m., it was loud enough for me to get up out of bed and tell him to cut the shenanigans and go to sleep. Except when I wandered down the dark hallway, I realized he was asleep. The noise came from the furnace.

I headed downstairs and opened the door to the garage. The furnace looked OK. Nothing was on fire and I heard it turn on again, so I went back to bed.

When I woke up the next morning I could see my breath. After bundling up in my robe and slippers, I went downstairs hoping a cup of coffee would warm me up. While it brewed I looked at the thermostat: 61 degrees. “What the heck?” It should have kicked back to 68 by that point. I poured my coffee and looked at the thermostat one more time. Now it said 60.

Five minutes later I burst into my teenager’s room. “The furnace broke.” I shook his shoulder to wake him up. “Put on a coat; we’re hauling wood.”

To my son’s credit, he hopped out of bed with zero grumbling. “Wear work gloves so you don’t get splinters,” he advised. When it came to corralling firewood, this wasn’t his first rodeo.

Normally in times like this, it would be my husband heading out into 25-degree weather to deal with the frozen woodpile. But he was on a daddy-daughter trip with our tween.

Our snowy back yard was part winter-wonderland, part ice rink. But at the end of the vegetable garden was a present from Mother Nature: a pile of logs from our 80-foot Douglas fir that crashed a few years ago, almost killing us.

“Mom, this is going to bring a lot of spiders into the house,” my son warned.

“Spiders don’t bother me,” I said, as I reached for a log. “But hopefully we don’t find a rat’s nest.”

Gathering the firewood was a challenge since the logs were frozen together. We banged off the snow and brought a pile inside. At that point, my son went back to bed and I set forth to light the fire with whatever tinder I could find in the house. I considered carving pieces of wood with a pocket knife, but my hands were so cold I worried I’d cut myself. Instead, I used the Daily Herald. I rolled it up into tiny logs and stuffed them with drier lint. It took me 30 minutes to get a a blaze going, but our 1984 wood stove eventually sprang to life.

Unfortunately, 2022 had already gotten off to a rough start for my family, but at least the news was hot.

Jennifer Bardsley publishes books under her own name and the pseudonym Louise Cypress. Find her online on Instagram @jenniferbardsleyauthor, on Twitter @jennbardsley or on Facebook as Jennifer Bardsley Author. Email her at teachingmybabytoread@gmail.com.

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