This post is intended only for Mid-westerners and their westerly neighbors. If you live in Vermont or New England or really anywhere East Coast, please leave now while you might have the tinniest modicum of respect for me. If you continue you will likely say to yourself “that looks exactly like my cellar” and also “wow, she is really obnoxious and whiny” and you may never be able to look me in the eye again.
Just us flatlanders left?
I’ll continue. A “basement” in Michigan is either finished (so a second family room) or unfinished (a place to store boxes, do laundry, and hide from tornadoes). In Vermont, at least in a 200+ year old house, a cellar is where the mechanical stuff goes. And also where one can keep one’s spider web collection. And that’s it. My only experience with an old cellar before moving to Vermont was that of the Firestone Farm in Greenfield Village which prepared me for this about as well as going to the French part of Epcot prepared me to visit France.
It all begins with the stairs. It is impossible to descend the stairs without your head becoming completely covered in cobwebs. I suppose it might be possible for me to dust or clean the stairway but I really cannot imagine having the time or inclination. Ever.
Immediately to the right of the stairs is this lovely collection of pipes and faucets. My home is “heated” (I use the term loosly as we are never actually warm, instead the “heat” is there mostly to keep our temperature ever so slightly above freezing) by radiator, baseboard heat, and also forced air. Some rooms have all three, many rooms (every bedroom) has none. Why three? Why not simply expand one system? I have no idea. So maybe the faucets are radiator-related. Maybe someone over the years just thought they looked nice. I have no idea.
This is the oil tank. In New England, people heat their homes with “oil heat” which is found deep under the ground in rare pockets where the remains of unicorns and fairies have decomposed in just the right conditions to create it. It is priced accordingly. The oil comes to our house via tanker truck and one must descend the horrible cobweb stairs periodically to manually read the oil heat tank level and then try to guess when the next $650 shipment should be ordered, usually monthly. Yes. $650 a month. I’ve mentioned to many people here that it used to cost $120/month at the very most to heat my 5 bedroom home in Michigan but I’m pretty sure they don’t believe me.
Next to the tank is the “root cellar”. That light bulb has long ago burnt out and, thanks to the flash on my phone, this is the first time I’ve ever seen inside. Wondering what’s in that chest freezer from the 30s? I dare you to open it. No, really, I dare you.
The electrician thought that this might be the remains of the original cooking stove. Can you imagine eating food that had anyway been prepared here? Disgusting. Please admire the loose and loamy dirt on the floor. Our dirt here is almost pure clay, so why is this loamy? Wait, don’t answer. I’m better off not knowing.
A cheery window. I’d like to thank whoever decided to put the breaker box ALL THE WAY AT THE FAR END of the cellar. Seriously. Great idea. Our house was wired for electricity in the 20s when people owned three electrical devices total and never updated so a breaker is tripped at least every other day when we dare to do things like run the dishwasher and have a light on at the same time.
I’m guessing this might have been a coal chute at some point. Or not.
One of two tree stump stools, thoughtfully placed in case you want to sit down and really soak up the atmosphere down here.
So there you have it. Please think of me and my poor basement-deprived children the next time you all go downstairs to watch a movie on the big screen.