Sunday, September 12, 2010


We hit the finish line on the roof job on Labor Day. Doesn't that feel quite apropos? We thought so.

We had worked all through Saturday and Hurricane Earl, a zenith of a day. Blue sky and white fantasy clouds, not that I had much time to look at them. I saw them in a corner of the eye.

On Sunday we got in the car with two apples and a map we didn't need and took off north. Returned for twilight. That was a day off. But we hiked until our legs were sore.

Labor Day we decided it was time to finish. As the roof work narrows, so does the footing purchase. This job is better known as mountain climbing, layer over layer of ladders and hooks and ladders and purlins to grab a toe-hold, and minding gravity.

We kept up the ramp I had built on Saturday and used that for the final sheets, now working on the hook and ladder to get across for sinking in the screws.

On the very last sheet, Susan walking it backwards with me, all 17 feet and we have to find a passageway around the front of the yard, around the hedges, every stonewall I built over years, flower gardens, and still going the long way around for a clear shot at the ramp...I see bicyclists have stopped, a couple, to take a look at things. That means our chalkboard of a poem or quote (Emily Dickinson), and they tell us "the stonewalls", and "the color of the house". I nod up hello holding onto the sheet. Susan in her blue cap for the sun.

These are the very ones I thought might turn up, the ultimate strangers, but I can't ask them to join in and give us a hand at setting the very last steel sheet up against the ramp. Nice idea but I stay quiet. They watch from the road. Maybe they are snapping a photograph, all I know is we're getting this one up and finished before dinner time.

I love it that Greg set a hand in on this job, and Susan put in an equal hand and handled as many sheets with me, and we finished this together almost closing in on 40 years at the same homestead. I'm betting the roof will last 40 more years. There's a house down the road that I built and put the roof on 30 years ago, and back then we used nails and not screws, and I know the steel was bright red when we put it down and today it's faded only to tomato soup. Still strong.

Some people can't stand the sound of rain on metal. We await it.

photos © susan & bob arnold