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gutters

For Christmas, I received a book of “questions for creative exploration”. They are writing prompts, not all questions, and I decided that I would include my responses to them in my blog. They’re meant as daily exercises, but I just picked one I liked and got to work. Because I’m a rebel, baby! I also slightly deviated from the instructions because the book’s not the boss of me. The exercise for this day was…

There’s something strange on top of your roof right now. What is it?

I like the ladder I bought, but I hate using it. The ladder telescopes to adjust its length and hinges at the middle, where it can be locked open or into a stepladder position. My fear of heights, more a fear of falling, can be experienced on any ladder, stool, or flight of stairs. It’s more about potential energy and precarious position. I feel somehow safer in planes and on rollercoasters.

The fear makes cleaning the gutters an ordeal, even though I live in a ranch home. I triple-check the ladder’s position to make certain it’s level and on firm footing. Whenever possible, both of my hands grip the rungs or side rails. If I use it near a door that might collide with it, everyone in the house is loudly and sternly educated concerning the dangerous mission I’m about to undertake.

For all of this fear, I occasionally venture onto the roof itself. There has to be a significant accumulation of pine straw (pine needles, for you Yankees), or the drier vent has to be virtually plugged with lint. Of course, my wife holds the base of the ladder as I make my transition from ladder to shingles. There is repeated back-and-forth.

Me: Are you holding it?

Her: That’s what she said.

Me: Seriously! Please, for the love of God, hold the ladder.

Her: I’ve got it! Relax.

But there was one time, clinging for my very life at the top of the ladder, that I momentarily forgot to be scared. Something was up there on the roof, something that should not have been there at all, let alone be perfectly intact like the day it was made. It defied reason. It could only be real if I held it in my hand.

I wiggled to test the ladder, and when I was satisfied that it wouldn’t slide away from the roof, I climbed up. The object was lodged in some pine straw where two roof sections met. I needed to gather up the pine straw anyway, before it all washed into the gutters during the next inevitable thunderstorm. I flattened myself against the shingles and eased my way toward it.

It was whole, fluffy, and golden like it fell straight out of a TV commercial. The biscuit, probably of the fast food breakfast variety, was completely unmarred: no bite marks, no evidence it had even been pecked by a lucky crow. If I hadn’t found it on my roof, I probably would’ve slathered some honey on that sucker and wolfed it down with my coffee.

The laughter started slowly but eventually caused me tears and aching ribs. Until my feet slid out from under me. Thankfully I didn’t slide far before I found my footing at the expense of the biscuit, half crushed beneath me. I threw it over the side along with the pine straw, but I set it aside for the birds after I climbed down to bag the pine straw.

The only explanation I could imagine was that someone had thrown it up there. Maybe a kid walking to the bus stop didn’t want it. Maybe a bully stole it and flung his victim’s breakfast out of reach. Surely a bird would’ve taken a few experimental pecks before it decided it would rather have an English muffin. I would never know for sure, but I was glad to stand firmly on the ground again.

Have you ever found anything strange on your roof? Drop me a comment and let me know!

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