Monday, November 19, 2007


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.


Aliki2006 said...

My husband is longing to get up on the roof! At our old house, a low-level ranch, he routinely when up onto the roof to blow the leaves out. We moved almost a year ago and this current house is a two-story, and I'm not sure I *want* him up on the roof!

I loved this post--I might show it to my husband, who is such a roof-walker himself.

Tammy said...

Thanks for the lovely comment on my blog. :-)

Ekim said...

Back when I had a roof and a house under, I went through the roof climbing ritual cleaning gutters. Every e=year I would find bones. Not small bones, big bones. I guess the crows are strong creatures. They seem to have the strength to pack half a cow up there.
And toys. Action figures. I remember Star Wars guys. I always thought they got stranded when their space ship took off without them.

Cindy said...

The roof walking starts when they are boys. Boys love to be on roofs too!! At least my boys did!! Then they grow up to be men on the roof. Maybe the boys are on the roof because they see the dad's on the roof. Hmmmm, what came first the boy on the roof or the man??

Astromom said...

I hope this gives you my blog too. I love reading your blog, it is so fun, the way you describe how your youngest treatens if you get rid of the trees. My husband likes the roof too, maybe that is why we still have our swamp cooler

Kathie said...

Lynne, I love this story!! Aren't men funny?? When's the last time you saw a woman walking on a roof?

Trent said...

I don't see what the big mystery is; it's just cool to be up on the roof:

Great views, kids who look like ants, strange treasures from who knows where and a chance to sing your own variant of "Up On The Roof." All in all, not a bad gig. (You'll notice I said nothing about dodging work.)

I wish I had trees. Not for the leaves in the gutters, mind you, but then I would have lovely shade in Summer—which would admittedly mess up my plans for passive-solar. But it would have more places to hang wire for ham radio antennas. (Hmm ... maybe I shouldn't be allowed trees.) Then I wouldn't have an "valid" excuse to get on the roof, since I put up Christmas lights once and leave 'em there until their fried, frazzled, faded, and just look terrible. This is the year for replacements. Except I haven't managed to get on the roof for that, so the new (energy efficient LED) Christmas lights are strung around the kitchen and living room, giving a warm cheery glow 24x7.

And I have a new ladder, one of them super-duper extend-o-matic ones. Of course I have to go up on the roof.

(And just for the record, all the kids wanted to go up on the roof, including my girls. One chickened out at the top of the ladder and had to be escorted, but he was only six, and twenty feet is a very long way for a short six-year-old. His next oldest sister, who fears nothing, feared not at all, of course. Thought it was great.)