On the stark, bare, claw-like limbs of the large locust tree above, a handful of crows had congregated. The sky beyond them could have come right out of a watercolor painting by Andrew Wyeth – the fading charcoal grays of a cloudy, mid-November day, right at dusk.
I leaned the ladder against the roof’s gutter and climbed up. A change was predicted. Rain on the way, maybe even a little snow. In the autumn that always means it’s time to clean the gutters again.
Sometimes I make a feeble attempt at dreading the chore, but the truth is, I enjoy it.
Some of my neighbors have put gutter screens over theirs, and say they have eliminated the need to go up topside before every fall weather front brings more moisture. But if I did that I would have to miss a secret little ritual I indulge in through that cleaning process: often at some point I will climb onto the roof above my backyard, lie on my back and just look up at the branches, the crows and the infinity of sky for a few still moments.
I discovered the pleasure of a rooftop’s unique perspective as a child. Now when I steal a moment’s worth of meditation like this, I’m 10 years old once more.
In the pin oak trees nearby there were still enough leaves to chatter and rustle in waves as the Kansas wind breathed into them. A few more would give up the ghost with every gust, lazily zig-zagging their way down to join their compatriots who had fallen before them, cushioned by the browning grasses of another Kansas autumn.
This Thanksgiving I’ll try to remember to be thankful for the change of seasons, new perspectives and good old leafy gutters.