It’s been a quiet week on Hackberry Lane. The highlight of the past seven days may have been the annual cleaning of my gutters. I still do the job old school, meaning I climb a ladder to get chest-high to a clogged gutter and then pull out leaves for as far as I can easily reach. After clearing a swath, I climb down the ladder, move it over about six feet, and repeat. It takes three hours and about forty trips up and down the ladder to do both my house and my garage. 

Although I don’t remember the circumstances of a year ago, I must have cleaned the gutters on the house last fall, but for some reason, skipped the garage. The leaves in the gutters on the house were dry and fluffy and not unpleasant to remove. The organic matter (can’t even call it leaves) in the garage’s gutters was very different. It was a thin layer of soggy, packed down leaves atop a trough of compost that had to have been a year in the making. Removing the muck was basically digging a trench in mud with my bare hands. The gutter on the very back of the garage (the side facing away from the house and the side I seldom see) even had a couple of mulberry seedlings growing out of the decomposed detritus. 

I would not waste blog space writing about leaves in my gutters, except for the fact that the task of cleaning them out made me feel old. It was the first time ever that I took on a common household chore and wondered whether I should be doing it. I have low blood pressure, which ordinarily is a good thing. However, I am on a medication for a slightly enlarged prostate, and it lowers my blood pressure even further. Sometimes I get momentarily dizzy if I stand up too quickly. Once or twice last Saturday I felt lightheaded on the ladder. 

This is not to suggest I did not feel safe cleaning gutters. So long as I did not reach too far left or right when I grabbed handfuls of leaves, there was not a time I thought I might fall. There was, however, a realization that a day will come when climbing a ladder will be a poor decision. Manyu and I occasionally talk about selling our house and moving into an apartment. I always assumed it would be a distaste for yard work and home repairs that might make it happen. I now understand the trigger will be an inability to physically do the work at all. Common sense is beginning to compete with my male pride.

Steven Simpson