The slate roofs on the houses surrounding mine were supposed to last a hundred years. Some of them are still going strong after sixty five, but my neighbor Teresa recently recieved the news that she had some patches where only tarpaper protected her from the coming snow. I suppose it is impressive the slate lasted as long as it did, considering the level of pollution here in Pittsburgh when the house was built.
The roofers showed up, and the slate started coming down.
There is something very romantic and free about the sight of a figure balanced high above the earth and silhouetted against the sky.
Now, two of my brothers do roofs for a living, along with building barns that are works of art (see here, it is worth the trip) as well as the occasional house, addition, or whatever else needs doing. All five of the Slattery boys have worked on a roof at some point or another, and as far as I know none of the girls ever have and I certainly haven’t. I am wary of waxing overly rhapsodic on the topic of roofing because I am afraid of hearing them laugh at me from five hundred or a thousand miles away.
I still think roofing, like many types of manual labor, is compelling.
I love ladders, and heights, for one thing.
There are lots of ladders and heights involved in roofing.
And I’ve done just enough traditionally male manual labor jobs- as a (terrible) landscaper, seasonal orchard worker, booted produce person tossing crates on the back dock- that I do remember what it feels like to show up raggedly sipping coffee and smoking early in the morning, pondering the job at hand, and then work in the cold grey mist or hot searing sun all day. There is a certain satisfaction in surveying a clear physical task and then bending to it, working through it, and finishing it. The mind is free while the body is at work.
That said, I will never, ever be hired by my brothers for a roofing project.
I talk way, way, way too much.