April Showers

IMG_2065There’s a terrifying rumbling that travels back and forth above our kitchen, punctuated by the sound of flames and a giant cooking pot. Are the angels bowling? Or making a stew? No, it’s the roofers, into their third week of the second phase of putting a new roof on our building. This project started in the fall. Too late in the fall, it turns out, because they weren’t able to finish. So we waited out the winter, and now, it’s back to roofing.

Since we live on the top floor, we are able to experience this miracle up close. We know they have a bubbling cauldron of hot tar – we have to close our windows to keep the stench out. They aren’t actually bowling up there, but must be ferrying supplies across the roof with a wheelbarrow. Other things are smacking the roof with loud thumps. I visualize the extreme gym work-outs where you flip over giant truck tires. Normally, the roof work would happen during the week while we’re at work, but we’ve been getting a lot of rain, so they’ve been coming on Saturday’s to catch up. Lucky us.

Maybe the amount of rain is normal for April, but it has seemed unrelenting. Perhaps it’s payback for a winter without snow; gray days, sheets of rain coming down fast and forming massive pools in the street. As a transplant to Chicago, I recently learned about the “Great Chicago Flood.” Twenty-five years ago, 124 million gallons of water from the Chicago River breached a wall and filled underground tunnels and building basements throughout the Loop, shutting down some businesses for weeks. Since I’m frequently in an underground train station, and the Pedway, it’s an uncomfortable situation to consider. On really rainy days, underground train stations are wet. In part, because it comes down the steps from the street, people carry water in on their boots, coats, and umbrellas, and some of the wall seem to weep.

At home, when it rains, our terrace can fill up with water, and I hold my breath, hoping it won’t seep under our sliding glass door. Part of the roof project is meant to address this by installing a new drainage system, so water from the roof doesn’t pour onto our terrace. That will certainly make me feel more secure. Meanwhile, we alternate between rainy days, and days with enough sun for roofing to continue. Maybe the guys on the roof should build an ark.

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