Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Thumps in the Night

Compacting Roof Snow
Hazy as a Jazz Bar
Slobbering Icicles
Eagle Observer
Snow Sculptures Buckling Around Chimney
Porch Piles
Roof Tectonics
Hurls of Snow
Grooved by Roof
With a perfect fire blazing blue flames over charred larch and orange coals, Grendel lies sprawled at my feet. Heat radiates from the black iron and I'm satisfied that I've finally figured out the secrets to lighting green wood and keeping it burning all day. My oak glider creaks as I rock, reading from the white-light of my Kindle, wondering what the Dragon Reborn will do with nine Aes Sedai in Camylen.

Then I hear a slight thump, shifting me from fantasy to reality. It's long been dark outside and I'm certain that northern Idaho has midnight monsters.

Sitting still to listen, the thump comes again--distant as if upstairs. Grendel lifts his head. Thump. He cocks his ears, and I toss aside the Kindle, sprinting upstairs in a panic. Bobo, who often has seizures, usually forewarns me, but maybe one caught her off guard. At the bedroom door I flip on the overhead light and the sleepy GSP blinks at me from her nest of pillows on my bed. Bobo is fine.


Cautiously, I stand in the center of my office, a huge open room upstairs. Thump. It sounds like it's coming from Hobbit Hollow, the small guest nook nestled under the south eaves of the house. I stand at the room's door listening to a series of thumps, mustering courage against myths that go bump in the night. I open the door, flip on the light.

Bed unmade, beer bottle on the floor. Hobbit Hollow looks like it was invaded, but not by gremlins. My 24-year-old daughter was here a few weeks ago after she coached a gymnastics meet in Coeur D'Alene. Thump. Then I realize the sound is coming from my roof near the wood-stove pipe. Back downstairs, exchanging slippers for boots I step out onto my porch.

It's just snow compressing on the roof. Thump...thump...thump. The incremental sounds of compaction continue through the night.

Day dawns blue-smoke-hazy and warm. Well, comparatively warm; it's above freezing and icicles slobber like melting monster fangs. An eagle flies up the valley. I wonder if it looks like a smoky jazz bar beneath his gaze or if he notices the snow sculptures buckled into artwork around my metal chimney.

Pulling hard on the leash, Grendel wants to leap off the porch into the snow. But I can see the huge pile of drift that has come off the roof already, and I don't want to get knocked out by an avalanche of snow no matter how artistic it curls and piles atop the porch eaves. Away from the house I get a better perspective on the compaction that took place over night.

Those fluffy white flakes join forces to become steamrollers that pack moisture into dense layers. Breaking off like land masses, roof tectonics rift, shear and collide. My chimney bends from the pressure and I'm witness to new lands sliding ever so slowly toward the ground where snow drops then hurls 12 feet in a scattered pile. The roof grooves the snow the way glaciers carve stone.

No snow monsters visit Elmira; just the awesome power of winter weather thumping to let me know that nothing is ever truly still.


  1. "roof tectonics"... love it! It makes me miss the steel-roof barn we had on the small farm. I loved those "roof tectonics"! Thank you for sharing!! Brings back such good memories.

    1. And you know, it's only ever a few nights out of the year that conditions are right for roof tectonics!

  2. Those sounds of ice falling scare me half to death in the middle of the night! Oh, well actually, I am a bit of a chicken. They scare me during the day too. I am rather envious of your beautiful snow, we get mostly ice. When we do get snow, it is normally not enough to really give us the white winter wonderland, especially once Merlin treks outside :)

    1. Well, the downside of all the white winter wonderland snow is that it hides what the dogs add to it. :-) And, I'm a chicken, or as my husband calls me, a cowardly cowgirl! I thought that might be a fun title to a series of essays about being sacred on the range.

  3. It truly has been a white winter full of thumping and snow...I do love the Eagle observer...how beautiful!

    1. The eagles are welcome up until the migrators start flying in to the pond. I've been known to run outside, yelling at eagles to go away. They eat ducks. :-(