Jerry popped a French fry in his mouth as we ate lunch, and studied me a moment. He swallowed. “Well, are you going to tell anyone about this, Lucy?”
Lucy (after Lucille Ball) had become my moniker whenever I’d done something that might compare to her character’s outrageous antics.
The waitress streaked by, and I took a sip of cherry Coke Zero. “I don’t know.”
That was a few weeks ago, and I guess in time, I’ve gotten over the sting of this episode enough to tell it. But please, I beg you, don’t email me to tell me how crazy this was, and how I could have been killed, etc. I’ve already had a couple of people pin me to the wall on it. I am sufficiently admonished, and I promise I WILL NOT try this again. Here’s what happened:
It started with a fluttering.
“Hey, did you hear that sound in your office?” Jerry said interrupting one of my painting sessions in the living room. I’d been working on an extra large canvas, which wouldn’t fit in my regular painting spot in my office/studio.
We investigated and thought it a bird in a woodstove chimney, maybe stuck in a part of the chimney in the attic, which meant getting on the roof to take the chimney cap off so the bird could get free.
Here’s the thing. Jerry has one replaced knee and the other one needs it. He’s not getting on any roofs.
But my knees work great. “I’ll do it.”
However, we didn’t have an extension ladder, only a stepladder. Again, don’t email me. “No problem,” I ignorantly said. “Hold the ladder real tight, and I’ll pull myself up on the roof.” I hadn’t been on a roof in decades much less hoisted myself up on one.
After I’d put my foot where words on the stepladder read, “Do not use this step,” I thought it was somewhat easier said than done to pull myself up, because there was nothing to hold. Somehow, I managed to do it, and when I stood up, it was a lot higher than I imagined it might be. I felt a little dizzy.
I inched to the chimney and tried to take the screws off the cap. I needed a screwdriver. Jerry went to get one and threw it on the roof. I had to crawl to retrieve it. Did I mention it was in the nineties that day, and we have a black roof? My hands were scorched.
I removed the cap, and we thought we’d leave it open a while for the bird to escape. Poor thing.
Now, to get down. When I peered over the edge, the top step of that ladder was really far. I mean REALLY far.
“Just crawl backwards, swing your rear over the edge, and I’ll put your foot on the ladder,” my beloved spouse said.
I thought about it a minute. I knew if my rear ever went over the edge, I was going down. It’d be like casting out an anchor.
“Sure, it’ll work. Just don’t hang on to the gutter. It might tear off.”
I didn’t especially like his priorities in that last remark.
“I’m not doing it. There’s nothing to hold.”
We went back and forth like that a few minutes. The tear faucet was close to turning on. How was I going to get off this roof?
Can you say stuck?
“Call Lilyan and get her extension ladder.” I folded my arms tightly in front of my chest.
I guess my body language convinced Jerry that I was firm in my resolve not to come over the edge. He made the call and went to fetch the ladder from our neighbor.
During his absence I perched on the roof kneeling, my hands burning to steady myself, and surveyed my surroundings adjacent to the top of a Bradford pear. Two Downy woodpeckers flew to a nearby branch. It seemed I could hear them mocking and laughing at the gigantic wobbly bird on the roof. Poor thing, indeed.
Jerry came back with the ladder. “Hold tight. I’m trusting the ladder,” I said, letting go the “swing your rear over the edge comment” as I came down. But, what I really meant was I trusted him not to let me fall.
Later, I had to go back up again. The bird was still there. We tried to put a branch down the chimney so the bird could climb out. Didn’t work.
Do you think the bird might be all the way down in the stove,” Jerry asked.
“Trusting the ladder, again,” I said descending.
We went inside, opened the stove doors, the flue, and a wren streaked out.
Thankfully, we’d had the foresight to trap the cats elsewhere, but thinking the bird went out the door, we let them back in.
First thing Wilbur did was find the wren.
It was grab Wilbur and open the door again. It took awhile to convince this poor feathered creature that the open door was his pathway to freedom. He was draped in dust bunnies and cat fur from hiding under furniture.
At last, he took to open air.
Then, I had to go back up and put on the chimney cap. Trusting the ladder again.
So, here are the takeaways from my roof experience:
I have a new respect for roofers. They deserve every penny they get. I hope they wear gloves to protect their scorching hands and don’t have any equilibrium problems.
Solomon was right. “. . . better a nearby neighbor, than a brother far away . . . “(Proverbs 27:10). Thank you Lilyan for the ladder.
Like the wren, sometimes we can let fear get such a grip on us that we don’t even recognize the door to freedom.
And that trusting the ladder thing. I'm glad I could trust Jerry, but in an even greater way, it’s nice to know God is always holding our ladder to help and support us when we feel stuck.
But I have to tell you, if we hear fluttering again. I am not getting on the roof.
Lucy is done with ladders.