Heat Anyone?


I want to talk about my first country crisis. For some reason I thought about this on my way home from work. I didn’t really see anything specific to trigger this memory, it just sort of came to my mind and I have this urge to record it for posterity. Of course the 97 degree might have had something to do with it. Some sort of mental reprieve from the incessant heat.

I have to preface this with a little history. I have lived all my moderately long life in the southern part of this country (except for the five years we lived in Germany, five glorious years). Eleven of those years were spent in Montgomery, Alabama where the percentage of humidity oft-times equals the temperature in degrees. Another eleven years were spent in the desert heat of El Paso, Tx. Long, hot, dry summers and brief, moderate winters – wonderful sun and very little cold. The short of it – I am cold blooded and can only truly survive basking in the sun on a rock, not under a snow-covered, ice laden stone.

When we moved to the Midwest, it was after a life time of hot summers, warm springs and falls and really short, tolerable winters. That didn’t mean an occasional ice storm didn’t strike once a year or that on rare occasions an errant snow snow storm didn’t make its appearance. On the whole, I was a warm weather gal and accustomed to short three month winters and piped in gas for heat.

That brings me to our move to the Missouri. We moved into a farmhouse in the country. The house was heated with gas heat and the gas supplied was propane. I had never seen a propane tank before in my life. If I had, and it was entirely possible, I had no idea what I was looking at. My gas experiences were with natural gas. A mysterious tube in the ground piped gas into the house and made the heater work. The thing about propane tanks is they require someone to check the gas level and then have them filled when the gas gets low. The real kicker in this scenario is I had no idea this was how gas was maintained and that I was the one responsible for checking the gas level. You have to remember I lived in the city and utility checking was done by the utility company. My brain was still in the city and anything we needed would magically take care of itself by some guy in a truck.

Our first winter in the Midwest was hands down the coldest winter I had ever endured. To add insult to injury an ice storm dropped four inches of sleet which was subsequently covered in six inches of snow. To top it all off, I started a new job where I was the boss and was required to set a good example for those around me. The third day into my new employment, I awoke to a bone chilling 36 degree house and an external temperature in the twenties. I was beside myself. I called C-man, who worked nights at the time, and he quietly informed me we must be out of propane. OUT OF PROPANE!! I yelled it to myself. How do you get out of propane?? Why didn’t anyone tell me to check the tank? Why didn’t he check the tank?

Cold, cold, cold.

He suggested I take a hot bath and turn on the oven for some heat and be sure to call the propane company first thing. I was livid. I had three small children to get ready for daycare and school and how was I to keep them warm? It was freezing cold and I had an aversion to cold weather, let alone getting my family ready in near subzero temperatures. Worst of all, why hadn’t I been told about the propane tank?

Everybody took a hot bath, an undersized hot water tank required bath water sharing, and dressing in a hurry to bundle them all up. When I turned on the electric oven and some of the burners for some warmth at breakfast, the fuse tripped so that route to warmth was thwarted.

I did manage to beg the propane company to fill the tank that very afternoon. This day was only the beginning of diverse horrible winter encounters for that week. I was baptized into winter that week. You have no idea.

I will just always think about something like this to get me through any more cold winters.

Now we live in warm Arkansas and this is but a pleasant memory.

And that’s what makes this a little piece of heaven.


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