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  • Writer's pictureKelly Marks

In the Gutters

In our yard, we have three pin oak trees. They must be over 100 years old. They are enormous. Every spring, I am so happy to see the buds and signs of life. Every summer, I am incredibly thankful for the cool shade they provide. But every fall, I hate them with a burning passion.

Every single branch must have 1 million leaves, and they don’t all fall at once. I mow and rake and get them all up. I pat myself on the back. A slight breeze blows and the ground is once again covered with leaves.

The other problem has more to do with our gutters. In the spring when the leaves are budding, the trees produce a flower of sorts that floats into the gutters clogging them up. Then, of course in autumn, the leaves completely fill the gutters and continue to do so until around January, about two months before the spring flowers return. It’s never-ending maintenance.

Paul and I were griping about the gutters, and since neither of us loves heights, we were arguing about who gets the privilege of scaling the ladder, and reaching into the slimy, rotting leaves. I don’t think he’s realized yet that he’s always the one to do it. We always start the conversation like there’s a chance HE won’t have to do it this time.

We keep a file, a wish list of sorts, of things we would/wouldn’t do if we were ever to build our own house one day. There is a page written up about having no gutters. I’ve seen it done. On the drip line all the way around the house, there is a little line of concrete – a miniature sidewalk if you will. It keeps the drip from eroding the landscaping and there are no gutters to clean. Sounds like a win-win to me.

Strangely enough, that little area under the eaves is where the word eavesdropping comes from. People stood under the eaves to listen to the conversations going on inside the house. It comes from old English and Norse words, eavesdrip. I’m assuming the design and materials of their houses, not to mention their lifestyles, must’ve been very different from ours, but nonetheless, it makes for an interesting etymology.

The dictionary differentiates between overhearing and eavesdropping with the latter being bad manners. “Overhearing” should probably be considered the gateway vice. It often pulls us into eavesdropping.

One time I overheard a teenager say she was giving up POT for Lent. As you can imagine what started out as merely accidentally overhearing something, may have drawn me in for some good old-fashioned eavesdropping.

This past April, a group of us were having lunch in the wonderful café Flat Rock Village Bakery before our retreat. We were all crammed into a corner, eating and talking. There was a woman sitting across the aisle, alone and facing away from us. About halfway through our conversation though, she turned around and commented on something we had just said. Before it was all said and done, with no qualms whatsoever, she had pulled up a chair and joined us. That was eavesdropping in the extreme.

The other night I came downstairs, and Paul was on the phone with his brother. They were laughing and talking about weird topics as they tend to do.

I overheard (maybe it was eavesdropping) them talking about multivitamins. “I take them.” “I do too.” “How many do you take?” “Well, it’s kind of in the name - one-a-day.”

I started laughing, and immediately went back upstairs. There are some things better left unheard.

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Jul 19, 2023

Who would think a blog story about gutters could keep my attention, even if it were short? Well done!

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