Sunday afternoon, I am reading a friend’s facebook update: J_____ is so sick of this rain! I, too am disgusted by this summer of thunderstorms, so wet that our backyard is sprouting mushrooms and we can never get anything done around the house.
Only today, we’re about to clean the gutters—I just don’t know that yet.
It starts when Joe shouts that Belle’s window is leaking water. As usual, he defaults to extreme panic mode, grabbing a roll of paper towels. Used to him overreacting, I follow calmly with a few towels, anticipating a trickle.
Then I see Niagara Falls gushing over Belle’s windowsill and down the wall.
At first, I’m still calm, analytic, trying to figure out how so much water could be getting in with the window shut. But after 30 seconds of watching it pour over the woodwork we painstakingly finished and soak the drywall it took us months to hang, I abandon careful analysis in favor of furious mopping.
Joe has already figured it out anyway. It’s the rain gutters—we never cleaned them. He’s going to go out and do it. “Are you crazy?” I scream. This is not just a downpour but an all-out electrical storm. We literally had a tornado warning in eastern PA. And my husband wants to take a metal ladder outside in it.
But Belle and I are too busy sopping up the falls to stop him. We’re succeeding about as well as we would using a washcloth on Niagara, and the pile of soaked terrycloth is piling up around us. Panic has won.
Then I see the ladder through the window, with Joe ascending, already soaked. A second later, he hurls a wet clump to the ground and it’s like a valve is shut off. The water stops pouring in.
An hour later, Belle’s room is dry, but every towel in house is dirty and soaked, along with Joe’s clothes. Muddy tracks cover the kitchen floor. Our flowerbeds are gouged from the ladder feet, and mulch and gutter debris is spattered everywhere. The ladder is tipped on its side on the lawn.
For most people, a storm means canceling a picnic, a rain delay, another game of Monopoly. For us, it means a downpour in the bedroom and cleaning gutters in a lightning storm. There is no status update appropriate for how I feel right now.