What a difference the passage of time can make in changing one’s perspective. Last week I was enjoying the long winter – the quiet evenings, the warm house. This week I am beginning to wonder if winter will ever end.
Friday a half-dozen cars and trucks were stuck on the road in front of our farm, and I almost got stuck as well and would have had it not been for the frantic urgings of my neighbor on a bobcat who was fighting to keep the pass open. This year I have spent more time clearing snow than any previous year, I am running out of places to put it and one of my snow blowers blew its last breath. Plus, the roof of the house needs to have snow removed – again. But, because of a new purchase, that chore is now kind of fun.
Through the magic of TV, I became aware of a tool that removes snow from the roof without damaging the shingles. It has an axle with two small wheels on the ends and a long vinyl sheet that trails behind as if a carpet was being spread out for Lords and Ladies, but instead chunks of snow slide down the sheet and off the roof as the axle cuts them loose. It comes with four plastic poles to extend your reach, so you can really get after the snow.
I have an older style rake, which along with the snow will also remove the sand from the shingles. At the end of a long metal pole is a stiff blade that has very little flexibility in its application. Electrocution was always on my mind when I had it up in the air. I believe that with very little modification roofing contractors could use it to remove shingles.
I've also taken the step of climbing on the roof to shovel the snow. If you’re not careful you can exit the roof quicker and sooner than planned. At the end of the task there is usually enough snow on the ground to make for a nice landing spot. Jumping off the roof into the snow is a reward for the hard work, provided you have allowed for the landscape boulders buried under the snow.
But before I jumped I would stop to enjoy the view. Even with the cold wind cutting into my face I was reminded of past summers. When I was kid my friend Jim and I would spend many summer nights on the roof outside his bedroom window talking and listening to music.
Standing on a roof surveying all that there is to see is a great way to see sunsets, reflect on the past, and ponder the future. Isaac Newton, who understood falling objects, said on a February day in 1675, "If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants." He was acknowledging all the scientists who had gone before him, which made it possible for him to build on their successes and failures.
I am no scientist, rocket or otherwise, but I have learned from my past failings: There are better ways to do things. When clearing a roof or raising a child, you can sit back and watch as the sun will get the job done eventually, but there are only so many seasons in life and neglect can cause as much damage as hitting the roof when problems pile up. Gentle coaxing, even from a distance, can do a much better job of breaking up icy barriers than being inflexible and unwieldy, which can leave scars.
As I hold my wonderful, little grandson I realize this winter will end soon just as certainly as children will grow up too fast. Standing upon the roof allows one to see farther and being a grandfather melts your heart as you can see further.