The shadow fell like a stone past my window, followed by a crash akin to that of a very large body falling from a very great height.
I didn’t even flinch.
This, I have learned this winter, is the result of installing a metal roof on our house.
Actually, the lessons began last summer, when the roof was first finished. We admired the dark green finish, and felt secure in the knowledge that it came with a lifetime warranty. A good investment, we agreed.
Then we got our first rain. The metal panels, smooth and slick, without an ounce of friction to slow the rain, turned into water slides, sending rainfall cascading over the ledge in solid sheets. Since we don’t have a roof over our front door, we learned to stand an arm’s length from the door while unlocking it, give it a push inward, then leap forward quickly to stay as dry as possible.
Try leaping forward quickly when you have a dawdling dog at the end of a leash.
“We HAVE to have rain gutters installed,” I told George.
The roof was costly enough, however, without adding the expense of gutters, so we decided to wait. Thus we moved into winter, and discovered the horizontal icicle effect.
As long as it stays really cold, the snow stays on the roof.
But as soon as the sun comes out, even when the temps are frigid, the melt begins.
First the dripping snow creates icicles that hang delicately like frosty fangs along the edge of the roof. Then, little by little, the snow behind them begins to slide down those slick metal channels, folding gently over the edge and laying the icicles sideways like arthritic fingers curling in on themselves.
That doesn’t last long. Gravity soon takes over and whole channels of ice-fringed snow suddenly give way, crashing thunderously to the ground, to the deck, and on top of anyone standing in the way.
My office window is right beside my computer desk. First the shadow, then the crash, had me jumping out of my skin, producing strange typoed words on my computer screen. My internal sensors have finally learned to relax but it’s nearly spring. It’s taken me all winter to get used to it.
Walking out the front door has become an exercise in caution, too. Ever so carefully I crack the door, looking out and up to see whether a snowy overhang threatens my egress. More than once I forgot, opened the door quickly, dislodged a gravity-defying snow ridge, and sent it crashing down on my own head and, invariably, down the back of my neck.
“Forget the gutters,” I told George. “These avalanches will have them ripped off the house in no time.”
There’s probably a simple solution we haven’t thought of yet. There must be, because I see lots of metal-roofed houses around, including the expensive condos that line the bay. But until we figure out what that solution is, be warned. When approaching our front door, do so with caution.