Wet sock

Howard RittenhouseChaplain’s Corner

Padre Howard Rittenhouse

There’s nothing like a wet sock to catch your attention. One winter’s morning (back when we lived in Ontario in the snow belt), I was getting dressed and stepped over to the closet to grab a shirt. Squelch! I stepped in a puddle. There shouldn’t be a puddle on my closet floor. Why is there a puddle on my closet floor? As the icy cold water soaked my sock, I realized what had happened. On the exterior side of the wall was a small roof overhang. Over the course of the month with the ever-cursed snow falling and temperatures never rising above Alert-at-midnight-in-February, a small mountain of ice had formed on this overhang.

Building slowly the mini glacier had engulfed the entire slope and had spawned a prodigious stalactite (or is it stalagmite? I can never remember) of an icicle. This six-foot monster should have been a hint of problems to come, but I can be as thick as last week’s porridge, so I happily went about my business. Until, that is, a wet sock woke me up.

If you’ve ever lived in an older home, you know what happened. But for you who live in the lap of luxury, let me explain: ice forms on the roof due to heat migrating from the inside, melting the snow on the roof and forming ice. If this process is allowed to continue, what’s called an “ice dam” forms trapping melted water underneath. And if there’s any way water can get inside a wall or a roof, it will. Hence my wet sock. Left long enough (years, say), the roof will rot, mould forms and you have to call Mike Holmes.

So, grumbling and muttering about the injustice of it all, I pulled on boots and coat, dug out my ladder, grabbed a hatchet, and attacked the problem like an over-acting cast member of Vikings.

I climbed up the icy rungs of the ladder (I don’t like heights) and started hacking away wondering all the time if the aluminum deathtrap would suddenly slide out from under me.

Ice chips stung my forehead. Ice chips slid down my neck. Ice chips like needles threatened my eyes. Ice chips the size of a small puppy (a puppy with razor sharp, 6-inch long fangs) broke off and crashed to the driveway (I should’ve moved the car).

Eventually, fearfully, gradually, I was successful in removing the ice and stopping the infiltration of ice water.

All so I didn’t get a wet sock.

That wet sock was a wake-up call. It alerted me to a problem I didn’t know I had but should’ve guessed I had – if I’d been paying attention.

It happens to the best of us. We’re zipping along and then – squelch! – a wet sock wakes us up to a problem. It might be losing your temper over something quite insignificant, or withdrawing from your loved ones, or getting sick more often, or a nagging cough that won’t go away, or trouble sleeping. They’re all potential wet socks – wake-up calls – alerting you to a problem that’s been brewing. It might be physical, or emotional, or spiritual. Regardless, you need to check it out. Don’t ignore those wake-up calls. See your doctor, talk to your spouse, see the padre.

Maybe it’s time you paid some attention to that wet sock.

howard.rittenhouse@forces.gc.ca