Lots of Laughs
When the tank ran dry one cold night, this country life newbie learned a valuable lesson.
This country lesson is best served cold.
Living in the country successfully requires experience, often gained by making mistakes. My biggest mistake so far as a city girl who grew up to be a country woman was assuming I was on automatic fuel oil service when I wasn’t.
One of my first clues that something had gone awry that midwinter night was the chill in the air when I awoke. Still, I went back to sleep. It was just cold.
My second clue was the silence. Even though it was cold, I still did not hear the boiler kick on. That was enough to get me out of bed. The thermostat’s needle had sunk to its lowest number. I checked the boiler. Even a city girl knows what that is, but when she observes the flashing red error signal, pushes the restart button and nothing happens, this is when she becomes a panicked country woman.
The elephant in the room was the rusty fuel oil tank that sat six feet away. But it did not become visible to me until someone with more experience pointed it out. Fortunately, fate has connected me with a country-born-andraised man and, when I called him, he kindly directed me to the grimy giant.
“Read the gauge. On top.”
The plastic was yellowed with age. “It says ‘E,’ ” I said.
“You have run out of fuel oil.” Visions of pioneers freezing to death along the Oregon Trail flashed through my mind.
“Aren’t you on an automatic service?” he asked.
You have to request that? He had a solution: Call the emergency fuel service number.
It was Saturday, though, and the driver on call reported that he couldn’t come until Monday.
Would my daughter and I have to eat our cats to survive?
My boyfriend had a plan. He would come with kerosene. I didn’t ask why kerosene, since I needed fuel oil. But it carried me over until the truck arrived on Monday. I called the office first thing that morning and asked to be put on automatic service. Mistake made, lesson learned.
The consequences lingered, though. My boyfriend spent a few weekends cleaning out the gunk that traveled from the bottom of the oil tank into parts of the furnace I didn’t know existed.
I was proud of my hard-earned new wisdom until next summer, when my well ran dry as I did the laundry, watered the garden and let the kids run through the sprinkler, all at the same time.
Becky Sernett lives in central New York on a small homestead where she and her daughter learn many country lessons.