too many words by laura lemay

Tin roof

The rain is pouring down nasty hard, but the new roof we just put on the barn is holding. Not a spot of wet on the concrete floor, and I walked it twice. Its a big barn. I’m really impressed.

The barn is over a hundred years old, and the roof we replaced was original, we think. All three of them: the original redwood shingles, the original tar shingles, the original asphalt shingles. Not to mention about a thousand pounds of antique moss. The old roof had holes in it big enough for large owls to wander through (and they did). It leaked like crazy. We got to know the dry parts of the barn and we moved stuff around depending on whether it was the wet season or not.

To fix it we tore the whole thing off, shoring up or replacing quite a lot of the underlying structure. Even redwood can rot after 100 years of misuse, although a lot of it was sound and we could use old redwood boards from pig pens and chicken coops elsewhere on the farm to replace it. The new roof is corrugated sheet; its not as rustic as the original but it is watertight and it should last a good number of years. And that was the goal: to take this old gray mare of a barn that had been around longer than any of us and make sure it would continue to be around, longer than any of us.

The rain on the old roof was silent; the only sound was the wind and perhaps the occasional drip of wet on a tractor implement we had not moved out of the way. The new roof, however, is a wild orchestra of noise: hard rain on a tin roof rattles, patters, crackles about like dry beans in a can. After I checked for leaks I stood in the center of the barn, the center that used to always be wet, and turned around and around with a grin on my face as the rain came down and the barn chattered happily at me. The barn has a voice now.

“Isn’t it loud in there?” Eric asked as I ran back through the storm into the house.

“No,” I said. “Yes,” I changed my mind. “But its wonderful.”