Installing a heat pump will catapult humble and Marsha into the age of the Jetsons.
I must confess to being a coffee addict; it is nothing I’m proud of, and I do not publicize it.
My need for my drug of choice was exacerbated this morning with the arrival of our new Mitsubishi heat pump. I have no idea how to install it. What can you tell me about heat pumps? Although I know next to nothing about them, I hear that “heat pump” might be a misnomer because the fickle things can turn on their heel and run cold.
Marsha and I have a bed-and-breakfast, and there wasn’t a month in last season’s so-called summer that we didn’t run the oil furnace. Guests from the Deep South come to the coast of Maine, where they can enjoy the “cool.” But they didn’t mean “Maine coast cool,” and many nights in July and August they’d crank up the oil heat as a practical matter of survival.
Our “Executive Suite,” which is downstairs facing east, has windows on three sides. So on spring days when the sun is shining, it’s a good place to start cucumbers. In August there might be one or two days when it can get right steamy in there. So a device that warms guests in the early morning and cools them in the afternoon would be just the thing.
You might have heard that heat pumps run on electricity. This sounds good to a man who has 30 photovoltaic panels in his backyard.
Our heat pump, which arrived on a wooden pallet in three large boxes, will service only two rooms. We are old fashioned and the next generation will have to knock out all of the walls that were in vogue when the house was built in 1811. We’re ashamed of the many doors in our funny old house. We can close those doors and make little self-contained compartments that we call rooms. It is a concept that is strange and even unthinkable to most young people, who want a common living space, but it should enable our 24,000-Btu heat pump with two wall-mounted units to stabilize the temperatures in two contiguous zones during the spring, summer and fall.
You might recall my saying that Marsha and I live alone together. She is a movie buff who swaps information on the best new movies with her friends. When there are no guests, after supper she watches her movies in her office/Roku TV room. I like YouTube and watch Yale and Stanford lectures on history, sociology or the Bible in the Executive Suite. I’ve considered cutting a small hole in the door so we could hold hands or eat popcorn out of the same dish.
The way it is now, we occasionally look up when we change channels and wave wistfully at each other through the glass in the door.
So the installation of this heat pump will catapult us into the age of the Jetsons. Because we’ll set the thermostats in our respective rooms to suit ourselves and forget about it, some time might pass before we’ve found a new topic for conversation.
From 1970 until I met The Almost Perfect Woman 18 years later, I lived alone in this old house. As the years passed, I moved closer and closer to the only heat source until my bed was in the kitchen and only 3 feet away from the old black Kineo C. Although there were 70 acres of forest behind my house, I fiddled all summer, like the proverbial grasshopper, and seldom had anything to burn in January but rolled-up newspapers. I remember chopping green alders out of a foot of ice in my backyard.
Don’t think I was unique. If you’ve lived in rural Maine for any time at all, you’ve heard of old men who’ve snaked a birch tree out of the forest and set the butt on the porch. Every evening they’d saw off just enough to make biscuits in the morning.
One of my neighbors who lived over in the Clark District refused to put up firewood. He said that if he were to die, it would be bad enough to think of another man living with his wife, but it would grieve him more to think he’d left two cord of split dry birch in the shed.
My beautiful young trophy wife looks forward to seeing this heat pump up and running. She knows I can’t take it with me.
The humble Farmer can be heard Friday nights at 7 on WHPW (97.3 FM) and visited at his website: