When I was a little girl, my grandparents had a coal furnace and also a coal room in the basement of their Indiana farmhouse. In order to heat the house, the furnace had to be fed coal on a regular basis.
The coal room was right next to the furnace room and it had a window that opened wide to accommodate a metal coal shoot. The coal delivery truck would back up to the outside of the window and send shiny black coal sliding down the shoot onto the cement floor of the coal room. I loved to stand in the doorway with my hand on the coal shovel and watch the pile grow amid a rising cloud of black dust.
I often spent weekend nights with my grandparents and early in the winter mornings, the house would be very cold because the furnace had burned all the coal in the night. I would slip on my red rubber boots and my grandmother and I would go to the basement, where she would open the door on the side of the big metal contraption and shovel piles of coal into its empty belly.
After that, we would return upstairs to wait for the house to warm. My grandmother would turn on the electric oven, wrap me in a blanket and sit me in a chair in front of the open oven door. Once the house was warm again, she would close the oven door and say, “Since the oven is already pre-heated, we might as well make some cinnamon rolls for breakfast.” How I loved those coal furnace mornings with her.
This week on New Year’s Day morning, my husband surprised me and made cinnamon rolls just like he knew my grandmother made me on those cold mornings long ago. Several hours later, my cousin sent me a picture she had taken that day of the lane from our grandparent’s farm. Isn’t it amazing how our loved ones who are gone can be as close as a warm memory?