Journal Entry, July 18, 2019 – The Roof

A crew of men started replacing the wood shakes on our house two days ago.  It’s warm; the scent of cedar and the rhythm of hammers hint today of the life that a woodpecker must experience.  Given the noise that is involved, several people have asked me why I am hanging out at the house. Something about the roofing being removed and the sunlight reaching through the shake-runners and into our attic elicits a sense of vulnerability and a sense of the excitement. Both senses encourage me to stay.

The wood shakes on our roof are old; in roof-years as old as I am.  They are worn; patched, scarred; pitted by time, touched by loss, changed by the elements.  Patches of moss have collected in the spacing of the shakes.  Microscopic life has evolved. Lichen. Moss. A tiny fern was recently noticed.  Woodpeckers, Crows, Ravens, and Stellar Jays have come regularly to harvest and peck away at the tired wood; sometimes to seemingly only test the strength of their beaks on the metal vents; the flashing around the chimney – our patience.

I remember the roof when it was new; the memory of its texture, fragrance, and self-assuredness, remains clear.  At the time, I lived in our unfinished house with Boris and Flip (our cats) and Bridgett (our dog).  They kept me company as I worked on the house; warmed the bed I slept in an uninsulated room; curled in my arms; stretched beside my legs.  Kathy stayed with friends during the week. They had coffee waiting for her in the mornings. She slept under our new roof on the weekends; sanded, painted; puzzled Flip, Boris, and Bridgett with the changes of the sleeping arrangements.

The sound of hammers on the roof today resurfaced the excitement I had about our new house; our future; the path of our lives – after the kids.  Such a long time ago.  Twenty-eight years.  Boris, Flip, and Bridgett now touch-worn photographs in an album about “then,” our friends carrying wood, smiles, food, small trees, and furniture; a couple of raised fingers, one bandaged, the other, – a middle finger – saluting the steep hill. Photographs; memories about friendships and the labors and the joys of our life under construction.  We were all, every one of us, young and tireless at the time, and felt invincible – like that new roof.  

All-day, today, the smell of cedar, the sounds of hammers; and the realization of the gift of memories and of the “thankfulness” we are all reminded about – in the fortune of having a “roof over our heads.”

July 18, 2019