Gutter Dancing


The gutter guys came to my house this week, but just two years ago, I cleaned my own gutters. I’m telling you this because I don’t want you to think I’m lazy or infirm. I was over seventy years old and my husband said to hire someone (he had a golf date), but my Marine training kicked in, along with one of those We Can Do It mottos from WWII.

I donned my knee-high rainboots over my gutter cleaning clothes, including an already stained ball cap, and then dragged out the ladders, trowels, and brushes ready to tackle the worst job in the world. Our house is one story and not abnormally large, but it grew substantially when I began my scraping and scratching to oust the sticky, nasty accumulation of leaves. After the first hour, sweat poured down my forehead. After the second hour I rounded the corner to face a fully clogged downspout and a gutter with a guard, that wayward leaves and roof grit had sneaked into, but I got it done. That side of the house was long, and I was up and down the ladder a dozen or more times before lunch. I continued around the house, diligently scraping. I must say, I did a good job. Then I got out the hose to check my work, spraying the gunk remnants, which now easily flowed through my newly unclogged downspouts. I should have checked my appearance while I was at it. I had mud on my face (big disgrace), leaves and goo in my hair, and new holes in my sleeves. My husband reappeared when I was nearly finished and didn't’ seem to notice that I was covered with gutter smuck but was excited about a great chip-in shot he had made. He brought take-away food. (He can be so thoughtful, sometimes.) The next day, I caulked the holes that leaked rusty water onto my patio and was done lickety-split in two hours. I didn’t fall off the ladder, thank heavens, but I was mighty sore the following day.


This year, I took his advice and hired it done. Four young men and a supervisor showed up with five ladders. I was engrossed in writing Wrinkly Bits, when I heard loud tapping from the roof, which is common with all the squirrels we have, but this was loud. I went outside and all five young men were on the roof, doing everything I can’t: climbing, stooping, and lifting without a thought of losing their balance. They were done in forty-five minutes. No goo or mud in sight.


Hiring someone to clean my gutters was expensive, no doubt about it, but it was a lot better than a trip to the ER and I got to watch these twenty-somethings dance on my roof.


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