Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Ode to Ofenheitzung

As far as I can recall, I've lived eleven different places in Berlin; although a pair of these were as little as a week or two, I averaged a couple of months at a typical place, which was a great way to get to know various neighborhoods. In all that time, I've never had Ofenheitzung: I heeded everyone's warnings to avoid it. But I do have friends in Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain who swear by it, even though they always have freezing cold kitchens and bathrooms, the latter of which is always the first thing I heat.
At any rate, in the interests of broadening my life experiences even further (which is the main reason I do the things I do), I'm trying it during my current stay in Berlin, learning the routine of having the coal delivered, lugging it up the stairs from the basement, mastering a starter burn, getting the blocks of coal fired up, waiting five or six hours till the place warms to something reminiscent of the tropics and finally cleaning out the ashes. I now have a firm grasp on the importance of the precaution stamped on each Berlin dumpster: Keine Hei├če Asche... And I have to say, I certainly feel like a real woman going down the stairs and out across the snowy and/or icy courtyard, into the cold dark basement to lug coal when it's minus 5 or less outside (20°F).

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