Grateful for the time we live in


One feature of coming out of winter at my house is to clean my fireplace really well so it can rest for the next couple of seasons. It’s been an especially long season for the fireplace this year; not often do I carry in wood and get a nice fire going in April, but more than one evening recently I have done that and then appreciated the warmth and companionship of the crackling fire. I thought that Maxine my cat might cozy up on the hearth when there was a fire going, but she doesn’t care.

I figure that fireplaces could be another chapter in the book of Why We Are Blessed to Live When We Do. Mostly I like a fireplace for atmosphere, not to keep myself comfortable. Think about what it must have been like to live in Iowa when there was no central heating in a bitter winter. I don’t believe many houses here had a fireplace then. Most had some type of stove instead. Houses weren’t built with the insulation we have now, either.

I’m sure we’ve all heard stories from our elders about what it used to be like in their homes during Iowa winters: floors so drafty it felt like the linoleum rug was lifting up off the floor, a glass of water left sitting out that had ice on it the next morning, banking the fire in the stove just right at night so there was still a little fire come morning. My grandma remembered her mother warming a brick and wrapping it in flannel so that her children could take it to bed with them to take the chill off their beds.

And I feel slighted if I can’t turn on my electric blanket when I go to bed.

Another chapter in this book, if there was such a thing, could be about medicine. Yes, I get very weary of the multitude of television commercials from pharmaceutical companies promoting the latest medicine. Yet consider what it would be like if we didn’t have those miracles available at all. Perhaps these miracles first became widespread when penicillin was developed, followed not long after when the Salk polio vaccine was perfected. Other vaccines eradicated diseases such as smallpox and whooping cough so completely that most of us no longer even give them a second thought as a threat.

I have personal experience with an artificial joint; and if you don’t, I’m sure you know someone who does. That procedure is so commonplace now–some 600,000 of them done each year–that we hardly acknowledge how awesome it is to remove a damaged joint and replace it with a functioning one made out of metal. And it used to be that arthritis crippled many of the elderly.