Winter Fuel

As often as we can, Sammie and I try to attend the Wednesday Night Bible Study in the library down at the church. It is usually, sometimes, but not always, a spiritually enlightening experience. But for the most part, it usually turns into a 2 or 3 hour long social event with the first 30 minutes dedicated to scripture and prayer before we all wander off subject.

It was our turn to bring the refreshments. Usually we sit around gossiping about the ones that missed the meeting while having coffee cake, donuts and of course, coffee (We liked to attend as many meetings as possible to avoid being the subject of gossip and then hearing about it at the G&G the next day). Sammie and I have been trying to be a little more health conscious and have been watching what we eat in order to avoid any more health issues, so to that end, we brought a vegetable platter with homemade hummus dip.

The others became silent as we laid out the spread. A few of the others nibbled at our fare, but for the most part we took quite a bit of it home with us.

Drucilla Baxter, who is Vernie Bacon’s older and sometimes less than mentally stable sister was in attendance at this week’s meeting. Many of you may recall Vernie; she is the town gossip and knows it all. Well it has become obvious that Vernie “learned it all” from her older, less than sociable sibling, and those of us “in the know” try to steer clear of both of them. But Drucilla was in good form at this meeting, she didn’t miss a chance to inject her opinion whenever an opportunity arose.

I was engaged in a conversation with her husband, Sonny, about the high cost of propane. It seems that nearly every resident that lives within the city limits of Lulawissie is dependent on propane for heat and cooking unless they use wood stoves. Nobody is all electric, since we frequently have power outages here due to ice storms and the like. It was costing each of us over $300 to fill our tanks. But the conversation quickly took a turn when Drucilla piped up with some sage wisdom and advice:

“It’s late in the summer. Don’t fill your tank up unless you’re sure you can use it all by October 15th!”

Sonny just shook his head and looked down at the floor.

“I’m sorry, what?” I replied. I was watching Sonny.

“October 15th is when they start coming out with the winter propane.” She went on, “What you got now is summer propane. Summer propane won’t work in the winter time.”

I looked at Sonny. He turned to his wife, “Dru…..” She held her hand up and stifled him. He shook his head some more.

“Come October 15th, if we still got summer propane in our tank, I’m gonna make them drain it and give me credit on it until next year, when I get it filled in April.”

I didn’t know what to say. I just looked at Sammie and she excused herself with some of the others to go laugh in the hallway.

“What happens if you mix the two together?” I asked her.

“You risk the lines freezing up on you, and then you have to keep the gas lines warm with a torch.” She was on a roll. “If it works at all, it won’t be no good. Your furnace will just put out cold heat.”

Sonny was getting a deep furrow in his forehead, and was rubbing the back of his neck as if he was kneading dough. “The poor man” I thought. “He has to live wth this kind of logic.”

“I see.” I said. I didn’t know what else to say. “Cold heat?”

“’at’s the worst kind of heat.” She said. “It’s a waste of good fuel.” She took a bite of a Little Debbie cake that she had in her purse. “The pumps at the gas station are the same way. You have to make sure that you’re putting winter gas in your car after October 15th, not the summer gas.” Crumbs fell from her mouth as she spoke and they landed on her shirt and lap. “You gotta go inside and asked the man if he switched over to winter gas yet. Most of the times they look at you like you were crazy, but they try to pull a fast one by not switching, and telling you that they did, but I’m on to ‘em! I know!”

Sonny got up and went outside. I followed him out. He was staring up at a tree limb. “You doin’ alright, Sonny?” I asked.

“Yeah,” he went on. “You s’pose that limb’d hold me until I stopped kicking?” He looked at me and laughed. “I been with that woman for nearly 35 years. I don’t know who’s worse, her or her sister. Her husband got out, he’s a lucky feller.”

I sent Sammy a text: “Sonny and I will be down at Fahy’s having a drink.”

Sumus quod sumus. We are what we are.

As always, give thanks to God for everything. Do a good deed for a stranger and always be safe.

Until we meet again.



©2011 by Del Banks



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