How many stories begin with, “well, it seemed like a pretty good idea at the time”? My gutters were full of what we called “tree flug” and needed to be cleaned. Lots of trees around our lake property. And since I live alone (my cats have a fear of climbing ladders. Plus they are really lazy.) the job fell to me.
It was not a difficult task since the roofline in front is not that far from the ground. I gingerly selected one of my husband’s many ladders from our garage – not the smallest he had and certainly not the big boy that I could not lift even if I wanted to. When my brother-in-law asked me afterwards which one I used I said, “the pretty yellow one.” Up I went and progressed around the left side of the front porch. Everything was going well. “I can do this, it’s easy,” I thought to myself in that smarmy way the uninitiated have before it all goes to hell.
But as I gamely flung tree debris and fossilized bird poop out of the gutter onto the tarp below, I suddenly turned back to the roofline and saw a growing black mass of buzzing activity creep out from under the shingles about two-feet from my face. Hornets nest! Afterwards, my brother, Mr. Personality, had said I should have just let the hornets sting me. But given the immediacy of my plight, I of course panicked and tried to clumsily descend the ladder. The last few rungs turned out to be optional and I fell, wrenching my right ankle.
My first irrational act was to blame my husband (always worked pretty well in the past). If he were still here with me, I would not have been on that damned ladder, was my petulant thought. After getting my senses and pride together as best I could, I limped into the house and decided a trip to the local medical walk-in clinic was in order. It confirmed a small fracture in my right fibula. Did you know the fibula is not a load bearing bone? Neither did I but apparently if you are going to fracture your ankle, that’s the one to crunch up. A large plastic boot that I referred to as my Herman Munster shoe, was part of my wardrobe for about four weeks.
So besides not getting on a ladder when I am home alone or expecting my cats who do not have opposable thumbs to call 911, what did I learn from this painful experience?
- I learned the trick of driving with my left foot.
- I learned that many people I know either had or currently have a fractured or sprained ankle with a silly story attached – they started to come out of the woodwork – so much so that we could have started a Clumsy Club.
- I learned that unlike grief which is carried around on the inside, when you have a physical affliction that people can see, they offer to help you straight away. I got my lawn mowed (thanks neighbor Tom) and the rest of my gutters cleaned (thanks sister and brother-in-law) without even asking.
And thanks Herman, for giving me a lighthearted way to face what could have been one more brick on top of a full emotional load. I’m sure even you had the sense not to let Lilly tackle the gutters.