While we welcome the coming of autumn in Vermont, everyone resists turning on the heat for the first time. In fact, it becomes a matter of honor to be the last to fire up the wood stove or imbibe in a temperature boost from the furnace.
Part of that reluctance is economic, of course. But part of it is…well…just plain old Yankee stubbornness, I guess. That’s a quality that Edie Wolfe’s cocker spaniel, Nearly, does not understand.
Welcome to Carding.
Now, Nearly Wolfe is renowned in the canine world as a patient dog. Over the years, the handsome cocker spaniel has taken the time to teach his human, Edie Wolfe, how and when to walk him three times a day, what part of his belly needs patting the most, and never to feed him raisin bagels.
But he had never figured out how to get Edie to raise or lower the windows at just the right moment or to just the right level for him to maintain a constant exterior temperature of 72 degrees Fahrenheit.
Take this morning, for instance. Judging by the fading plant life that passed by at his level, Nearly intimated that the long hot stretch of the year that was far from his favorite was drawing to a close. That meant cooler nights ergo, the window openings needed to be moderated.
But Edie, who slept under a quilt except on the hottest of nights, seemed to enjoy the bracing temperatures, snuggling deeper and deeper under her covers until Nearly feared she would disappear all together.
There was no doubt it was cold, and it was past time to do something about it. Nearly gave a leap, and landed in the middle of the bed, right where the covers were rucked up in small hills and valleys. Edie started but did not wake.
Warmer, Nearly lay down to wait for the fuller light of morning. There would be a scolding—Edie welcomed her dog to sleep anywhere but on her handmade quilt—but Nearly knew it would be shortlived.
Maybe next time, his human would moderate the window openings.
Or make him his own quilt.
Either way, he’d be happy.
Edie gasped a little when her bare feet hit the wooden floor. Scurrying to the bathroom, she whipped a sweatshirt from the back of a chair, hurriedly yanked it on, and then crossed her arms over its front. Unnoticed, Nearly slipped back to his own pillow to catch a few more winks.
Soon he heard the slide-bang of closing windows as Edie whirled around the house. The tea kettle rattled next. Then with a loud “Brrrrrr,” she leaned forward to check the outside temperature on a large thermometer outside her kitchen windows.
“Fifty-two degrees,” she huffed, and whirled around again to dig her slippers out of their summer resting place at the back of the coat closet.
Nearly crept downstairs, dreading his first snuffle of the day in the backyard. It would be quick, he could guarantee that for sure. Edie squeaked a bit when she opened the door for her dog then dodged into the closet a second time to retrieve her favorite sweatpants.
The kettle whistled, Edie poured, Nearly trotted back in, and then her eyes landed on the thermostat. The digital numbers reaffirmed that it was cold enough to justify a few moments of heat even if it was still September.
But as Edie raised her hand, she thought about the bragging rights she’d lose over morning coffee at the Crow Town Cafe. “Yeah, it was cold but I just put on some heavier socks, and I was okay,” Andy Cooper would say.
Then Lee Tennyson would kick in. “Fed the kids oatmeal this morning. Warming them up from the inside out, you know.”
Agnes Findley would point out that the sun was still pretty warm in the afternoons. “And if you heat up the house in the morning, it will be too hot in the afternoon. And it’s silly to run an air conditioner in September.”
Edie swallowed hard as she let her hand drop. “It’s only September,” she said to Nearly. “I can’t turn the heat on yet.”
Nearly did his best to look pathetic, hanging his head just enough that his ears drooped forward. But Edie only sighed as she lifted his food bowl up to the counter. “I’ll tell you what, we’ll warm up your breakfast while I make oatmeal. It’ll be much warmer by the time we’re done. How’s that?”
Thank you for journeying with me to Carding, Vermont. If you subscribe to my website, you’ll find a short story in your inbox every Thursday morning along with food photos and recipes from the Crow Town Bakery, and other green peak moments from Vermont.
If you enjoy the Carding Chronicles, please share them and encourage your friends to subscribe to this website. And please review the Carding novels wherever and whenever you get the chance to talk about books. Your opinion matters more than you can imagine. The more folks who share Carding, the more books I get to write, and the more you get to read.
The Carding novels are (in order of appearance):