Friday, March 13, 2015


Every winter I develop a phobia about the snow piling up on my roof and possibly causing damage to my house. This year, with good reason, my phobia has been worse than ever.

I’ve been checking the exterior of my house at least three times a day, searching for bulges, cracks or anything else that looks suspicious. The same with the inside of the house. I thought I saw a crack in a corner of the bathroom ceiling the other night and was ready to pack my bags and leave.  But the crack turned out to be just a cobweb.

And the slightest noise makes me jump. On TV, they said houses make normal sounds in the winter as temperatures fluctuate. These sounds can include creaking, popping or banging. Unfortunately, those also happen to be the sounds a roof makes just before it turns a house into a pancake.

Although I have so much snow on my roof, I worry about low-flying aircraft hitting it, I’m relieved there’s not even one icicle. That’s a huge change from the last house where I lived.

That house had a metal roof, which was supposed to cause the snow to slide right off, so there would be less risk of winter damage. Granted, most of the snow did slide, but only to the edges of the roof, where it remained, piling up and freezing until it formed ice chunks so thick, I half expected to see the hull of the Titanic sticking out of them.

As a result, my husband and I became afraid to leave the house. Visions of one of those big ice chunks sliding off and landing on our heads caused us to dash in and out of the house in record speed. And we made a conscious effort never to slam a door.

We weren’t the only ones who were afraid we’d end up with flattened heads. Whenever I tried to let the dogs out into the yard, they’d take one look up at the huge overhang of ice and dash back into the house. They developed kidneys of steel.  I ended up having to do everything short of dressing up like a steak to coax them outside. 

Then when the temperature finally rose into the 40s and the ice began to melt, huge pieces of it began falling off the roof and crashing to the ground or landing on the porch with such force, they sounded like explosions.  More than once, the house shook from the impact.  Some of the kitchen-cabinet doors even popped open.

And as the temperatures continued to climb, the sound of crashing ice became more frequent. I began to feel as if I were trying to sleep in the middle of the percussion section of an orchestra.

One particularly loud ice crash occurred one day while my dogs were out in the yard. When I opened the door to call them inside, they were nowhere around. Panicking, I ran into the living room.

“I think that last crash scared the dogs so much, they jumped the fence!” I shouted at my husband, who was watching TV. “We have to go look for them!  They could be halfway to Canada by now!”

He just calmly sat there, not leaping to his feet as I’d anticipated he would.

“Somehow, I can’t picture our dogs leaping over a 5-foot fence,” he said. “I mean, they weigh over 100 pounds each and one of them has bad knees. I’m sure they have to be out in the yard somewhere.”

“Fine!” I huffed. “I’ll go check!”

I threw on my jacket and headed outside, running – not because I was in a hurry, but because I wanted to dodge any falling ice.

I called the dogs, but there was no sign of them. And it wasn’t difficult to check the yard when all of the bushes, shrubs and trees had no leaves on them to conceal anything.

Just as I was about to give up and take a drive around the neighborhood to expand my search, another ice chunk fell, this time landing on the small back porch. Two dogs suddenly came bolting out from underneath the steps and ran to hide behind me.

My current roof, which is shingled, is quiet because nothing slides off it. And for that, I’m grateful. But that also means everything just sits there, piling higher with each storm, which concerns me.

I found a roof rake in the garage a couple weeks ago and had just about talked myself into trying it…when I saw a report on the news about a man who’d been raking his roof when a ton of snow suddenly slid off and crashed down on top of him, burying everything but one of his feet. He’d had to remain that way for a couple hours, until his wife finally came home and found him.

That did it. I shoved the rake right back where I found it.

So I guess the snow on my roof is going to remain right where it is – probably, judging by the height of it, until June.

Maybe it will help keep the house cool in hot weather.
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