Back when I was a kid, I just thought the old man was cheap.
Every October, he was an impenetrable wall when it came to managing the thermostat when it got cold in October. He had a number of “greatest hits” expressions, ranging from “is every light in the house on?” to the classic “close the door we’re not paying to air condition the neighborhood.”
But in October, when you’d wake up to a cold morning and hope to find relief with a blast of heat from the furnace, his standard line was “it’s not time.”
My Dad was a child of the depression, so wasting anything drove a stake through his heart. Running the heat in the early morning only to come home late in the afternoon and hear the air conditioning running sparked an explosion of stories from those days, from hearing about walking to school in the snow 5 miles uphill both ways, to having to eat dirt for dinner and being glad you had it.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The author still tells those stories to this day and never experienced any of that.
So he believed until you felt frozen for at least 36 hours straight, turning on the heat would be a premature waste of resources. “I’ll let you know when it’s time,” he once said, “and it won’t be until after November 1.”
Incidentally, this must be a Yinzer phenomenon too, as I once joked about this on Twitter and got a reply from former Fox 5 Super Weather Lady Sue Palka, asking if my Dad was from Pennsylvania. As the Scarangellas came from Melfi, Italy in the early 1900s and settled in Altoona, PA, I replied yes. Apparently she grew up in the land of Cheesesteaks and Chocolate Bars and had herself experienced this.
You learn to cope waiting for the 36 straight hours of arctic bliss to end. An extra blanket on the bed. Sneaking a space heater into the bathroom. Comfortable sweatshirts are the uniform of the day. And because Dad was mostly right, by afternoon it is comfortable and you didn’t need those things.
Here in my house, there is always the gas logs in the fireplace to take the edge off. My wife believes if she is cold, then everybody is cold (if you fall asleep on the sofa watching a game, you will wake up with a blanket placed over you). As a result, our WonderBeagle dog Maggie now has a sweater collection, as a new one arrived earlier this week.
It’s a turtleneck, and it makes her look like some Ivy League scholar, ready to smoke a pipe and read a good book while relaxing in her mahogany paneled library. I’ve been calling her “Walter” when she wears it, and can imagine her wearing it in the author picture on the back of the book she undoubtedly will one day write to describe her years of having to live with me.
But while the old man always insisted on waiting at least until Nov. 1, I don’t think we’re making it that far this year. Today and tomorrow the high will be in the 70s. Saturday the high is 61 and rain. The next 3 days the lows are in the 40s and the highs are in the 50s. It’s going to rain most of those days too to make it even chillier
Somewhere in there we will pass the 36-hour mark of 3 dog nights. Today I’ll replace all the furnace filters in anticipation.
Because on Sunday, we will be bringing the heat.
it will finally be “time” 😊