Steam Heat

Those of us whose homes still have steam heat with those old, clunky cast iron
radiators standing in the corners of rooms like reticent and mutant miniature Bactrian camels are treated every winter to the wonder of the musicality of inanimate things.

Listen to the slow knocking, then the quicker banging and the cocky clanking of the pipes, the rattling of the valves as the heat starts, and rises, rises… A subtle clinking in the valves gets brasher and louder…

The pressure builds. Hear the cycling flat notes of the steam and then its half serious, half playful hissing, followed by its ribald whistling through the valves, pushing the air out at higher and higher compression.

Go with the steam’s sibilance, the valves’ jingling and jangling, the pipes’ clanging syncopation and the spasmodic whooshing sounds…

You can almost hear Peggy Lee or Patti Page, Ella Fitzgerald or the Pointer Sisters intoning I got steam heat… I got steam heat – but I need your love to keep away the cold…

Hsssss…  Klink…  Psssew…

*           *           *

© Gregory V Driscoll 2011

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