Posts Tagged ‘Grootna’

Saturday Single No. 262

Saturday, November 5th, 2011

I mentioned in Thursday’s post our progress in getting the gutters cleaned. We have four long gutters on the house and a very short gutter on two edges of the little porch above the back door, and Wednesday afternoon, we got two of the long gutters done. Yesterday we finished the job, cleaning the two remaining long gutters and the back porch gutter.

As I stood on the ladder and the Texas Gal handed me implements from below, we confirmed yesterday afternoon what we’d theorized Wednesday: We hadn’t cleaned the gutters for three years. In the autumn of 2008, our first in the house, we’d seen leaves cluster in the gutters and – being new to the house biz – thought that we should see what kind of mess they were making. Our landlord provided a ladder, and one chilly November afternoon, I pulled out from the gutters a layer of crisp brown leaves and then found a half-inch layer of, well, gunk.

For whatever reason, that Saturday three years ago was the last time I climbed the ladder and tended to the gutters. I’m not sure why the task did not get done last year or the year before that. It was, I guess, one of those things left for later and then later still, until later has come and gone along with the first snowfall, making climbing a ladder to the roof not only chillier but possibly risky. So the gunk – actually rich humus created by the natural breakdown of the leaves – had risen in the gutters over these past three years to the point where during this summer that I could see green bits here and there above the edge of the gutters, telling me that we had weeds in the gutters. And I resolved to get the gutters cleaned this autumn.

It wasn’t all that difficult. In most places, it was a layer of leaves and a layer – this time perhaps an inch deep – of humus. At three of the four places where rainfall and snowmelt flow into the gutters from the roof, however, there were three inches of rich deposits that were home to networks of dandelions and other weeds, their leaves limp but still green. As we resumed the job yesterday and I began to dig the humus from the third gutter, we both had the brief thought that we should have saved the humus and put it into our rudimentary compost pile. But we had no container immediately at hand, and – already perched on the ladder – I did not want to delay the work, so, as we had Wednesday, we let the rich organic matter fall onto the flower beds below. I imagine the lilies, especially, will benefit next spring.

Even when removing three years’ accumulation, cleaning the gutters is not a difficult job. My main concern with the task is the anxiety of being up on the ladder, which is why I don’t tackle the job unless the Texas Gal is around. I fear taking a tumble and not being able to get help. Other than that bit of anxiety, I don’t mind the job. I think next spring, however, we’ll do things a bit differently. I’ll bring out the ladder one more time, then I’ll hose down the gutters and place gutter guards over them so the leaves no longer have a place to decay.

As I was pondering this piece – and the task that sparked it – I wandered through the music looking for something that would fit (at least with its title; I was fairly certain I had no songs that were literally about cleaning funky stuff from gutters). And I came across a tune from an early 1970s band from Berkeley, California, called Grootna.

I’ve seen Grootna described as having been in the vein of Jefferson Airplane, Quicksilver Messenger Service and other Bay Area bands of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Some writers note that Grootna’s lead singer, Anna Rizzo, had some of the style – if not ultimately the talent – of the late Janis Joplin. And there are some of those sonic similarities. But in listening to the group, I always come back to comparing the band to another Berkeley group from the same period: Joy of Cooking.

Anyway, to mark the cleaning of the gutters, I settled on the first track from Grootna’s only album, a self-titled 1972 release. Here’s “I’m Funky (But I’m Clean),” and it’s today’s Saturday Single.