Thoroughly exhausted from a day of raking roofs, I slogged through deep, heavy snow for 45 minutes to reach the last of the roofs to rake. After a short rest to catch my breath and have a smoke, I put the pieces of my roof rake together and got to work, only to find that the blade skittered and bounced harmlessly off the thick layer of ice that had developed on top of the thick layer of snow. I lunged and swung and pulled and yanked until I was left with little more than a strip of bent, twisted aluminum on the end of a stick, and after that I sat down and cursed.
I cursed again as I realized I would have to climb onto the roof and chop with a shovel and I cursed some more when I remembered the nearest ladder was 45 slow, slogging minutes away. Lugging a ladder that far is no fun, even if it is done on snowshoes so, not quite ready to admit defeat, I headed home to dream up Plan B over a nourishing snack of cookies and beer which, while quite tasty, provided no inspiration at all.
I lay in bed that night, tossing and turning as I racked my brain for a solution to my dilema and rain fell outside, creating more ice. I listened as the voices of former mentors and other respected persons from my past became like a Greek chorus, chanting over and over, “Work smarter, not harder.”
But what did they mean?
I was still thinking about it in the morning as I carried the bucket of ashes I cleaned from the pellet stove to the porch and watched the sun melt the coating of ice from the trees. Amid the sound of thousands of shattering ice shards I had my own “Eureka!” moment and within minutes I was scratching and clawing my way back to that icy roof with the bucket of ashes and a shovel to create my very own solar-powered roof rake.
Here’s the theory: the dark ashes absorb energy from the sun and become warm. The warmth causes melting, which begets more melting and, even if the entire sheet of ice does not melt, considerable strain will be taken off the frame and roof of the building.
Initial, short-term results are promising and after using ashes and cinders on driveways and walkways for years I can’t help but say to myself, over and over, “DUH!”