Around the corner from ourÂ houseÂ is an old red-brick Victorian thatâ€™sÂ seen better days.
With three stories and a wrap-around porch, it must have been nice once.Â Â
But last winter the roof of that wrap-around porch was leaking.
By January,Â a giant icicle hung over the front door likeÂ the sword of Damocles hovering above anyone whoÂ came in or went out. Even when we walked by we tiptoed, afraid weâ€™d cause a tremor and knock it loose.
I’ve been thinking a lot about icicles lately.
On neighbourhood walks withÂ the dog, Iâ€™ve been examining them: some are skinny spears, others as fat as boa constrictors, hanging from the eaves.
It seems that every second house in this town has some remarkable construction of iceÂ waterfalling from its roof.
Back in JanuaryÂ the FederalÂ Government announcedÂ some EcoPlanÂ which promisesÂ a bunch of money to support alternative energies. It goes something like this: people whoÂ develop energy-efficient technologies will get money. So will homeowners whoÂ use geothermal, radiant heating, solar or wind to heat their houses.
As you can tell, Iâ€™m not totally up on the details but thatâ€™s because Iâ€™ve been too busy examining the icicles. I find myself shaking my head at how plentiful they are and thinking simple things, thoughts that would likelyÂ get me laughed clear out of Kyoto.
Why not start with everybodyâ€™s heat-leaking roof?
Thatâ€™s what icicles mean, my husband explained to me shortly before I began venturing out daily on the Icicles of Orillia tour. Itâ€™s really quite simple: heat rises, heatÂ seeps out the attic, heat melts the snowÂ which runs and then freezes again.
So all these upside down geyser-like formations are actually energy, that stuff we’re supposed to be conserving. There it goes: bleeding away into the open winter air, doing nobody any good at all.
“Why doesn’t somebody just go around giving notices?,” I said to my husband one day.
“You know: your house is leaking, fix it.”
He laughed at me – like lots of peopleÂ would – butÂ to me it seemsÂ obvious. Why not start in our own backyard?
The difficulty, of course, is thatÂ a lot of these houses are rentals.
The sagging Victorian on the corner is practically a slum,Â its large parking lot scattered with garbage, a blanket hanging out of a broken window. There are kids living there. Cold ones, it would appear. Â
It’s easy for people with money to take advantage of the government’s eco-options. It’s not so easy for people on low incomes.
And withÂ the wage gap widening between the rich and the poor,Â exactly how much of the populationÂ can actually afford to put energyÂ conservation first?
They’re pretty busy with those shinyÂ swords hoveringÂ over their heads. Â Â Â Â