The men in our neighborhood have been on their roofs lately. It started with my husband. He got on the roof to clean out all the offerings from our backyard maple trees. Every tree offers bounty to the world. In the spring the maples send buds. Lots and lots of little buds. In the fall we get whirlybird seeds. Lots and lots of whirlybird seed.
In the front yard we have several oak trees that our baby planted years ago. She must have been about six or eight. She’s now nineteen and threatens us with all manner of interesting things if we ever cut any of her trees down. The problem is, she planted them too close to the house and they actually overhang the rain gutters. They offer what seems like tons of acorns. Not the cute, smooth acorns with the charming little hats but BIG acorns with BIG hairy hats. If you step on one on the lawn you are in danger of falling over and breaking something. For the first few years they only offered leaves and we thought they were the perfect trees. Then they went through adolescence and it’s been downhill ever since.
Phil gets on the roof and cleans the gutters out just in case we should perchance get rain. With clean gutters the rain will go down the downspout and not spill over the edges. This spilling-over-the-edges phenomenon floods the basement where I have all kinds of goodies—that I haven’t actually seen in years—stored. Precious stuff. Valuables. I’m sure of it. Lots of valuables in boxes. These valuables are not to be confused with the valuables in the garage. The garage valuables can hold their own against garage dangers, the basement valuables are more tender, easily bruised, things Mother gave me. Things that came from Dad are used to pound, open, close, they are sturdy.
Actually, I’m anxious to find the boxes of kid’s books that are in the basement. One book I’m looking for in particular is about forest animals that were snowed in, inside a hollow tree. I think “Hollow Tree” was in the title. Anyway, that’s one of the valuables that Phil keeps protected by cleaning out the gutters on the roof.
The neighbors behind us have no trees but our trees generously share. I wonder if they resent our trees? Or us? Our trees keep their house cool in the summer months so maybe they are okay with the buds, the leaves, and the whirlybird seeds.
I have seen the daddy of this household on the roof twice in the last week. The first time his leaf blower sent showers of leaves to the earth. On Saturday he was up there again. Not blowing leaves out of the gutters but walking back and forth across the roof, making narrow sweeps with the leaf blower. Blowing what? There were no leaves. Blowing nothing, back and forth, back and forth. It took him a considerable amount of time. Why was he there? Did his wife have indoor chores he didn’t want to do? Was he lonely for the sky?
The neighbors across the street have been roof walkers too. One put up Christmas lights. He wore a rope around his waist; his wife and two of his kids had the other end, hoping if he fell they could keep him from falling all the way. Maybe he would be halted in his descent, mere inches from the ground, like Tom Cruise who was going to steal things.
The other man had yet another leaf blower, cleaning out his acorns—cute, small ones with small hats--and acorn leaves. He also cut some of the branches out of the oak tree that is planted even closer to his house than ours is. A few years ago he pruned this tree and used the branches to made a rustic king sized bed for his daughter. Now his grandson wants one so our neighbor is pruning again. I think the tree can't stand more pruning, it's going to look naked but perhaps the lure of the roof makes the neighbor blind to the fact.
I think the men like being on the roofs. Perhaps they commune with God, enjoy solitude or simply avoid kitchen duty. I don’t know why they are all on the roof, but they are all up there. Walking back and forth, pretending they are Tom Cruise, pruning, doing immaginary cleaning, just sitting at the peak, enjoying the things that earth bound mortals cannot imagine. I’m just a little bit jealous.