Today, the sixth of October, is a lovely day, sunny and warm. I added just a light jacket to head outside with the dogs this morning, and had even shed that before our walk was done. At the hardware store, we kept the door wide open to welcome customers. There will be few enough days left in this year when that is possible. Home, I considered opening windows to let in the fresh air and warm wind that is playing through the trees outside.
Yesterday was a different story. My house was down-right cold when I got out of bed. The thermometer read 47 degrees fahrenheit. The humidity was at 80%. A strong, cold wind was pouring in through the kitchen windows.
They are not good windows. They were old, used, and headed for the dump when I acquired them, and they’ve now been in my kitchen for at least twenty-five years. Single-pane sliders, drafty at every joint, and almost impossible to slide in their tracks, I often wonder if the view they offer is worth the trouble of opening and closing them.
That task involves climbing onto the counter top, or standing, hunched over, in the sink for leverage. I need at least a mallet and a screwdriver. If dampness has caused the wood frames to swell, a crowbar is sometimes helpful.
I usually open them only once each year, when I am absolutely sure summer weather is here to stay. I hold off on closing them until fall has made a definite entrance. Yesterday, I decided, was the day. Closing the windows alone was not going to fix the cold coming in, though.
Last summer, more than a year ago, in an overly forceful effort to kill a mosquito that had landed there, I broke one of the window panes with my bare hand. Last winter, unwilling to pay the exorbitant sum I’d been quoted to replace the window, I covered the opening with plexiglas, bubble wrap and duct tape. It was an ugly repair job, but it kept most of the drafts out.
I was determined, before another winter came around, to buy the replacement window myself. I’d looked on-line at building supply stores, and knew I could purchase a serviceable double-paned window for a quarter of the price I’d been quoted. I felt sure I could find someone to install it for a more reasonable price, too.
As it happened, though I’ve left the island several times over the course of the last year, I never got to a building supply store. Though I carried the dimensions around with me, I never got the opportunity to buy the window. Was there still time? Maybe. Maybe not. How many mornings did I want to wake up to a cold house? How long did I want to wait before turning on the furnace?
I decided to, once again, patch the window opening. I spent a little more time getting it right, this year. I covered the plexiglas panel with over-lapping layers of bubble wrap, wrapped around so that both sides were covered. I used clear duct tape to cover every seam, and to frame the outside edges of the panel. I fit it into the window, and taped it into place. I cut strips of styrofoam to fill the gap between the top of the panel and the window frame, and I taped that in place, too.
It’s not attractive, but it’s probably the most air-tight window in this whole house. Finally, I draped a lace curtain over the curtain rod to cover all the ugliness. I still have lots to accomplish before winter, but I feel ready, now, to head into fall!