She learned forecasts can help

Published 1:00 am Saturday, November 23, 2013

According to the weather forecasters, it looks like we might be in for a rainy Thanksgiving week. I learned many years ago that it is a good idea to pay attention to weather forecasts. That lesson came home to me the first year we lived in Cookeville, Tenn.

October had just marched on. Forecasters had been predicting snow for several days. Even so, it just did not register with me that snow really did blanket the ground there as early as Nov. 2. Still tucked in bed to snatch a few more minutes of sleep, I heard my husband shout from the living room of our mobile home. “There is snow on the ground.” Uh, oh, I thought. My excitement over the beauty of a snowfall never surfaced that morning. I pulled the covers over my head, dreading what I knew would be his next words: “You had our oil tank filled yesterday, didn’t you?”

As a stay-at-home mom, I kept busy running our household and driving our son and daughter to school and various activities. The day before when he reminded me to order oil, I was helping our daughter look for a shoe and gathering our family washing early so I could claim space on the mobile home park clothesline. I spent the rest of the day cleaning, cooking, picking up one child at school and taking the other to an appointment. I simply forgot to order the oil.

As soon as I reluctantly answered his question, I dialed the fuel company number—busy, busy. When I finally got through, the frenzied person on the line told me not to expect service for several hours. By then, my husband, bundled in his Army boots, overcoat, and gloves, had poked a measuring stick in the oil tank. It showed low—very low. He stomped back inside. When I suggested he borrow some oil from some of our neighbors, he growled a reply I did not hear. I dared not ask him to repeat it. Embarrassed and humiliated, he stomped off and knocked on a few doors, begging for oil.

I had stretched his patience a bit too far. To put it mildly, he was very unhappy with me. After plodding through the snow, knocking on doors, and fooling with the transfer of oil to our tank, he drove to Tennessee Technological University where he was an ROTC instructor. He dropped our son off at Tennessee Tech Campus School. Unlike our Alabama schools, Tennessee Tech took no snow holidays.

Through the years when it snowed, reminding us of that family story, he never found it amusing.

On that snowy November morning when our fuel was low, I saw no beauty in the wonderland of the white stuff blanketing the world around us. Yes, I know the value of weather forecasts. They are important for middle Tennessee, for those of us in the Alabama Gulf Coast area, and everywhere else.