Friday, February 13, 2009

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Life in Paradise

As the Obama Administration copes with reality, so do the rest of us deal with the logistics of our given climate and lifestyle.

Last week, the cellist and I, on separate days, reduced the snow load on our roofs in anticipation of more and wetter precipitation. That never arrived, so the roofs sit exposed to changing temperatures without the insulation of 10-24 inches of snow. We didn't think much about this until last night when the temperature dove steadily below zero.

On the northern face of the steep roof, ice had formed in a thick layer below the skylight. More than just a dam along the edge, this armor extends several feet up. The roof does not leak, but the ice and the materials of the roof itself react to the cold at different rates. Every couple of hours, starting at 1:30 a.m., the house thundered with a noise like a gas explosion. Since the living room stove has been acting a bit weird, we've been shutting it off when we go to bed or leave the house. It sat quietly when I got up to investigate.

As always when a noise awakens me, I wondered if I had really heard it. An aftershock sounded like a cat jumping down from a tall piece if furniture. It could actually have been a cat jumping down from a tall piece of furniture.

Two hours later we both woke from a lighter slumber when the house boomed again. I wondered if drifted snow had blocked the wall vent for the Monitor heater in the basement, leading to some sort of ominous backfire. I checked the vent with a flashlight. It was fine. I stoked the wood fire, turned down the Monitor setting so it would not come on, and returned to the nest. More aftershocks vibrated the house, but their exact location remained impossible to pinpoint.

The 5:30 blast clearly came from the section of roof I suspected. I had to get up anyway, so I went around turning on the heaters, feeding the cats and all the other routines of a winter morning. I haven't had much sleep, but that's how it goes. I keep promising to do better.

The temperature dipped close to 11 degrees below zero at dawn. The wind swayed the trees. Another day lay ahead, unexplored country in a familiar land.