Mindful Musings


There’s a certain attraction to being up on the roof.

Not enough of an attraction to make me want to do it very often, but once I’m up there I appreciate the new perspective: it’s not often I’m looking down on my surroundings from such a height, looking across at the telephone wires instead of up, seeing the tops of the trees at eye level, and admiring the azure blue fading through pale blue to white on the horizon below me.

The recent hail storm caused damage to the fibreglass roof over our deck: every panel had a hailstone zero in on it, resulting in chunks of fibreglass scattered on the deck and a lot more light getting through. Our skylight leaked for the first time ever: the force of the water descending onto (and into) it was just too much for it to withstand.

I went up on the roof to check for damage to the skylight and our solar panels. While I was up there – seeing as I climb on the roof so very rarely – I took the opportunity to clean said solar panels (it’s been two years since they were last cleaned – by professional hired help), clean the gutters, check for loose nails … and have a general look around.

Preparation: don overalls and old windcheater; grab gloves, a bucket with a soft sponge and water with a splash of washing-up detergent (the jury is out on whether detergent should be used or not: I’ve seen recommendations for and against it); position the ladder securely against the roof (in a way that it won’t fall when I climb on it, so that I won’t fall off it).

Check: my spotters are around. (They won’t catch me if I fall, but they will be able to ring the ambulance!)

Action: climb up the ladder, bucket in hand. Place bucket on the roof. Follow the bucket up – carefully, now – till I’m on the roof, too. Walk along the lines of nails: that’s where the beams are. Don’t want to fall through the roof because I’m not supported from underneath! And clean …. first dip the soft sponge into the water and lightly scrub the dust and lichen off, then rinse with a hose (thrown up by my spotters) and finally dry with a towel – so that water stains smeared with remnants of dust don’t dry on the surface of the panels, reducing output efficiency.

Of all our panels (24 in all, in three groups of eight) only one sustained damage: it looked like it had been hit by tiny meteors (which I suppose golf ball-sized hailstones are), with impact ricochets fanning out in expanding circles and straight lines radiating from the centre outwards. Impressive! Although there’s only five or six actual impact points, the entire panel has sustained damage: its surface looks very different to that on the other panels, that’s for sure. Insurance jobby? Hmmm …. we’ve taken photos and we’ll investigate. Is it still safe to run that block of solar panels, with this damage? Hmmm …. best make enquiries about that, too!

Being on the roof on a day of 20 knot winds, gusting to 40 knots, is not ideal. The still days are better, when I can bask in the sunshine, watching the Firebird helicopter scouting for fires while crouched on my haunches. I’m using my body in a way that it’s not often used and I’m energised: as a change merchant (aka teacher) and crowd controller (aka teacher) and (electronic, these days) pen-pusher (aka teacher and editor), I can stand for long periods of time, sit for long periods of time (usually in a chair, whereupon I gain a lap) … and my stretching is through yoga postures. It feels great to be physically active in an unaccustomed way! To see that elbow grease in action while stretching up and over to reach the top, bottom and sides of every solar panel. To feel the muscles of my body working in new and vigorous ways.

Seeing the vast difference before and after the clean is gratifying: that’s got to mean more efficiency in producing energy, right? We’ll see in our next power bill …

Feeling virtuous

1 thought on “Roof”

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