Are you like me and embark on the yearly fall ritual between halloween and Christmas and install lights on your house? It has been something I have done every year since I left the nest and established my own abode. I live in chinook country meaning between the snow and cold snaps we get these beautifully warm winds that cause the temperature to soar. It is then I gather my strings of lights, eavestrough clips and scale the ladder to the frost covered ashphalt shingles. Untangling the strings of lights is a challenge especially on a slanted and slippery roof. The window before the temperature plummets is only a few hours. The chinook winds that carry the warm air hide when the afternoon fades and evening approaches so the time to get the lights installed is but a precious few hours. The strings, bound to a stick for the previous twelve months are stiff and come off the stick in a clump. Unfurling the cold wire, bulbs tangling by catching adjacent wires further adding to the frustration is a lesson in patience. I struggle with this part. Once I have the strings stretched to their full potential I take a quick glance down the street from my aerial view and see a few neighbors sneaking a peek at my high altitude Santa Claus rooftop impersonation except I’m not dressed in red and do not wear a big white beard. They dont seem to care they just keep staring. For them its like watching a car accident in the making, waiting for me to plunge to the frozen tundra below so they can go back into their warm homes and tell their friends and family they just seen their neighbor fall to his death.
I shrug it off because, remember, I do this every year so my skin is thickened to the sneers. Now that I have turned 50, crouching on a slanted rooftop, my boot toes hugging the edge of the eavestrough, inches from falling into the abyss I realize that chewing on my frozen kneecaps while I strain to clip the wire on the metal trough is getting infinetly more difficult. After a few strings are up I am feeling much better until I realize that the warm winds are making me sweat inside my coat designed for the regular cold. Knowing I will be drinking gallons of Neo-Citran later that night I trudge along. Soon my fingers become slow and unresponsive. I have ignored my gloves and now my poor hands are angry at me. I quickly don the leather sleeves onto my fingers and silently curse leather and its penchant to stiffen in cold weather.
After a few hours I finish my annual ritual, say a prayer of thanks for keeping me rooftop and not airborne, I make my way down the ladder to complete the mission and flip the switch to admire my hard work. The late afternoon semi darkness is ready to radiate my handi-work for all those nosy neighbors to go back inside their homes and announce that I did it again. I plug in the cord attached to the last link of strings and flip the switch.
I grab the car keys and head to Costco to purchase extra strings to replace the annual bulb burnout.