I will cry when our gas bill gets here

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By W.B. Evans

Somehow during middle of the night, that blanket at the foot of the bed got pulled up snug around my shoulders.

I felt all comfy and cozy until my feet touched the bare oak floor.

Bless Pete, it’s cold.

As I navigated toward the kitchen to flip on the coffee pot, my better half stirred.

“Turn the heat up,” she said. “We have a baby in the house.”

You know, I seriously doubt if that child was as frosty as great-grandmama.

For some reason, those little bundles of joy seem to hold heat better, or least it seems that way.

I walked into the kitchen and noticed two or three letters laying there on the table just waiting to be walked to the mailbox.

OK, I get it. They won’t make it outside on their own.

Clad in a T-shirt and summer shorts, the chilly winter breeze coming down the Charlotte Road from the direction of Indian Land was mighty cold as it ran up my britches legs.

As I stuck the letters in the mailbox and raised the flag, I detected a faint, but gleeful sound coming from a southerly direction.

That can’t be early-morning traffic leaving the county for jobs in Charlotte, I thought. Nobody is happy about that.

Then, it dawned on me. Those are shouts of joy coming from the natural gas company.

With highs in the 30s and lows in the teens, we’re turning up the heat right now, which is good news for the utility folks.

When I got back inside, great-grandma said the house felt good.

“I want you to remember those words when the gas bill gets here at the end of the month,” I said.

Staring at that thermostat had me recalling the so-called “good old days.”

As a youngster, there was no magic box on our hallway wall which could signal bursts of warm air into a drafty house.

In weather like this, our morning heaters worked off coal, wood, old newspapers placed on a grate ready and kitchen matches.

And if somebody (guess who) forgot to do his evening chores the night before, a cold task greeted me with the morning sun.

Thank goodness the days of chopping kindling, hauling in scuttles of coal and stacking cord wood are gone. So are the ashes which had to be dumped.

As a boy, I hated fireplaces and all the work that came with them, but I did like staying warm.

Now, it’s rather fashionable to sit by an roaring fireplace rubbing a bird dog’s head.

Looking out the window as I poured my first cup of coffee, I noticed there are still leaves to get up with the leaf blower, which is an endless task.

You know, there’s so much stuff I need to get done.

But between this extended cold snap and all this rain, those leaves are a soggy mess. To tell the truth, at my age, I’ll get it done when I get it done. There’s no shame in that.

Now to top it all off, there’s talk that a light dusting of snow could cover those leaves before the week is out.

These snow rumors always have me second-guessing my take on fireplaces.

We don’t have a single fireplace in the house. Maybe I should’ve planned at least one to heat the place if the lights go out.

Some of you braver souls who ventured out to the paper box this morning are probably sitting by a roaring fireplace right now in a sweater reading this.

As for me, I’m standing here with the sounds of gas company laughter ringing in my ears. You’ll probably be laughing right along with them when  my gas bill arrives in the mail.

Me? I’ll probably be crying,

Until then, stay warm. Keep the kindling dry, the wood box full and the ashes emptied.