Readers suggest several ways to keep warm

April 09, 1998

Dennis Shaw

What do chili peppers, dancing and love have in common?

They've all been suggested by readers of this column as ways to save the environment. Well, at least in a roundabout sort of way.

I complained last month about being cold after turning down my thermostat to save energy. By doing so I was helping the environment a little, but I was also running around the house with a hat and several sweaters on, and I was still cold.

Then one reader called and told me I needed to have a warm inside. But she didn't tell me how to do that, so I asked for suggestions. And these are what I got:


Chili peppers

The chili pepper idea came from Jamie Murphy, a former Hagerstown resident and an ex-Marine. It's good to know that even strong men get cold. He deals with the cold by drinking warm things, and says, "Hot spicy foods also tend to make my core temperature rise." I like that idea. Bring on the Szechuan.

Dance and cuddle

I also like some ideas offered by Gerald Hicks of Funkstown. He keeps warm inside by dancing. At home he plays CDs of rock 'n' roll, cha-cha, polka or fox trot music and exercises in time to them. His wife joins him at public dances, and they both keep warm. That sounds good to me. And best of all, after that, he says, "we cuddle at night."

Mrs. Hicks also keeps warm in the kitchen baking cookies, pecan and lemon tarts, and making apple butter and homemade candy. I'd rather do the eating than the baking, especially if I can justify it as being environmentally correct.

Love others

But the most rewarding ideas of all came from Dolores Rickerds of Knoxville. She wrote me two pages of ways to have a warm inside, but it all boiled down to this: Be a loving person.

Her heating systems include her granddaughters, Roxi Conner and Katie Rickerds; her husband Bub; her children Beth, Sherry, Dawn and Roy; her mother, Ottolie Deener; and Rhoda Tritapoe, a 94-year-old friend she visits in a nursing home.

It's not just the love of people that keeps Mrs. Rickerds warm, either.

She's energized by the goodness she finds in Brownsville Church of the Brethren, Pleasant Valley School, this country she loves and in the natural beauty she sees in the world all around her in this lovely valley.

But the most important factor of all, she writes, "is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind. If you do that, everything else will fall into place."

Just in case my faith is a bit weak, she also suggested a back-up: a nice big stove, a couple of cords of wood and a quilt. But especially today, on Easter Sunday, I'd rather try her other suggestions.

It's too easy for a hard-core environmentalist like me to get discouraged by the destruction I see happening in the natural world around me. So it's nice for a change to concentrate on the goods things ... and keep warm and save energy in the process.

Dennis Shaw is a former Herald-Mail editor. Write to him at P.O. Box 276, Clear Spring, Md. 21722 or call 301-842-3863.

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