Posted in Writing Life

*Standing on the Roof

We took the air conditioner out of the bedroom window on Wednesday. The window now offers a good sized view, just over four feet by four feet, or 1 3/4 sq metres facing east. The window slides sideways, which is a pain for the a/c but lovely for a breeze, and I climbed out to stand on the flat roof above the kitchen and back balcony. This is the view:

rooftops in fall

Those are garages behind the houses that have them, these houses having been built over a 100 years ago, when the park nearby still had horse troughs.

And this:

trees in fall from flat roof

I see that birch in all season, generously shading our house though it grows next door, making my daughter sneeze in spring, serving up seeds to squirrels, bare and brightly white in winter moonlight.

While I was taking the photos, I heard a man swearing somewhere to the north. I couldn’t tell what he was angry about but whatever it was, he was emphatic. Now there’s just the sound of the rain and and the slur of wheels: traffic that can’t been seen from my window, just heard behind the green and gold and red of trees, brick, chimney pots that have no function now that high efficiency furnaces are the norm and exhausted through pipes.

I like chimney pots. They’re old and these houses are old and they are comforting. I want to show you a picture, so I just walked over to the west side of the house, thinking I might get a better view. But no–trees are in the way. And then I went back to my desk, put my head out the window and noticed that, yes, there is a chimney visible from here and it’s smoking. There is still an old furnace among my neighbours. (Further down the street someone has a 19th century boiler; it was the only heater in the neighbourhood that worked during the power outage last winter)

chimney pots back roof fall

Last night I had worries. I woke up from a bad dream. I forgot what I was supposed to keep at the centre of my heart. It is here: beauty of the chimney pots on a day of rain.



Lilian is the author of Web of Angels, a novel about a mom with DID (multiple personalities). She's also the author of the historical novels, The River Midnight and The Singing Fire, about secrets, friendship and motherhood in 19th century Poland and London.

11 thoughts on “*Standing on the Roof

  1. I hate those things on top of houses, but probably because here they’re all vents–almost no one has chimneys. And there seem to be a dozen on every house. Yours ARE comforting. So old and stable. And the rain, too.

  2. It feels very real, somehow, to see out of your windows – much better than a carefully chosen landscape or a particular landmark. Thank you for a slice of your life!

  3. Beth, thanks and I hope you come to Toronto sometime and we can get together. It looks like a dull city as you’re driving on the 401 from the airport, but the neighbourhoods are wonderful to walk through. It’s a world tour really.

    Litlove I’m so glad you enjoyed it. That’s how I felt looking at your study at the college.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s