Saturday, January 29, 2011

January 29: Up on the Roof

Today I gritted my teeth and finally did something that's needed doing for the past several weeks: I shoveled the snow off our roof. Since most of our roof is near-flat, it accumulated a lot of snow in these past few storms. So even though we had it replaced when we moved in almost six years ago, it seemed prudent to get up there and ease its burden a bit.

The more steeply pitched roof on the front of our house is visible from the lawn, and I could see actual drifts. (It's amazing what a difference it makes to insulate your attic better.) But because of its low pitch, the entire rear half of the building was virtually invisible. So while we've gotten a lot of snow in the past month or more, I was still surprised at how much of it was hanging out up there.

Once I figured out how and where to place the ladder, awkwardly hauling the ridiculously heavy thing through waist-deep snow drifts, it was simply a matter of scrambling onto the entryway roof, and from there to the pitch of the main roof. And then it was simply a matter of hanging my body as far as I could off that edge to shovel the front bits. By the time I got all that done, I was soaked. Then I had the entire playing field-sized flatter roof to do. This took a very long time. Hours, in fact. I estimate that I shoveled over a ton of snow, easily, off that roof. I shoveled off so much snow that I had to shovel the driveway and back walkway all over again after I came down--snow dumped off the roof had piled up there deeper than that from the last storm.

Physically challenging as all this was, I did manage to experience a few moments that made me smile, besides the moment when I'd finally hacked away at a 3-inch ice dam for long enough to knock it over the eaves. From that perspective, I was on level with the birds. Kinglets flew through the yard, and it sounded like they were right next to me, in the maple that hangs slightly over the back roof. Later, a downy woodpecker called repeatedly, as if in response to my repeated knock-knock-knocking on that block of ice with my shovel. And as big fluffy snowflakes began to fall--something beautiful but slightly disheartening given the task I was engaged in--a nearby titmouse loudly whistled his spring love song, "Peter, Peter!" I had a thought that in the spring, if my husband would haul the ladder for me (he's away this weekend, lest you think he's a slacker), it would be cool to go up there and lie down under the maple branches and see what flies through the yard at eye-level.

I don't belong here.
Snowy roof elevates me
among the kinglets.

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