“It doesn’t rain at all in California. Once a month, a man drives through, spraying Evian.”

— Hugh Laurie

THE OLDEST IS here, the California daughter who keeps insisting that my house is in desperate need of rain gutters. She and her husband have a house in Pasadena without rain gutters. They don’t have rain in California, and haven’t had any in almost five years. So what does she think she knows about gutters — or rain, for that matter?

Her husband, a set director for a major television show, does know a lot about a lot of things, especially building things.

He also insists we need gutters. He’s the son-in-law who cannot understand why we here on the cold coast are still burning oil. In Los Angeles natural gas has always been the fuel of choice. No one burns oil in Los Angeles.

I explained that when I bought this monster, I installed rain gutters all around at the insistence of an old Mainer, who referred me to the proper gutter people. It was an expensive effort, and it kept on being expensive for the next three years, until the ice storm brought them crashing down.

For several years, I had watched as the constant rain slid off the roof and into the gutter, and then slowly flowed down a pipe and away from the foundation.

However, most of the time it just puddled around the base and leaked into the foundation.

Come Halloween, the gutters filled up with pine needles and autumn leaves. I tried cleaning them myself. Then I fell off the ladder and sprained my wrist, all while people watched from the street, and some cat-called from passing cars. That was the end of my gutter cleaning.

Soon, when snow and ice came and froze up all the needles and leaves, the gutters cracked; and when that notorious ice storm came, down they fell, revealing all the rotted trim that was hidden.

For the last 15 or so years, I have been gutter-free. It’s sad, in a way. The birds seemed to like sipping dirty water when the downspout clogged up.

Now here I am with water in the basement and a damaged front stoop — the result, the oldest and hubby say, of my old man intransigence.

Perhaps they were right. I asked the youngest in Hollywood, who lives in an apartment, her opinion.

“What’s a gutter?” she queried.

So I caved and installed one long, beautiful, expensive gutter over the front door and the back deck to see what would happen. Then it stopped raining. I sat on the deck and waited to test the theory. The forecast called for a thunderstorm. Thunder and lightning came, but no downpour.

Last night after watching two hours of “Penny Dreadful,” I had the craziest dream. The front-of-the-house gutter glowed in the dark like an LED lamp. People came from all over. Gutter-free neighbors came knocking at my door, wanting gutters just like my glow-in-the-dark gutters.

Suddenly I was is in the glow-in-the-dark gutter business. The Ervins wanted them, the Rancourts and Carters signed up. Just before I woke up in a cold sweat, the Webbers came across the lawn and said that unless I squeezed them in before spring, I could no longer pick from their berry bush.

I must say that I’ve noticed neighbors and strangers pausing as they walk by. Last night at suppertime, an older man and his wife stood and pointed up at them, as he kept resisting her pulling him away.

At 2 in the morning I snuck out just to make sure they really didn’t glow in the dark like in my dream. You know, in the moonlight they kind of do. It’s curious. Jack, the dog, won’t go out that door now. He just stares up at them and growls.

The birds are back in smaller numbers but don’t perch. They sit in the trees and stare. Maybe it’s the glow thing. Do you think?

J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer.


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