“Just dump it in and blow it out!” the picture on the insulation blower announces. A woman stands in front of the machine, cheerfully holding a bail over the hopper, her dress and long, flowing hair blowing in the breeze. Upstairs, a man directs the hose into the attic, a discreet pair of safety glasses perched across his nose.
It’s a pretty picture, but it’s certainly not the one I would paint.
I was decked in my tightest pair of work-jeans (with sincere hopes that they might stay up), a ragged, basketball shirt, tight bun with a protective layer of bandanna, goggles and dust-mask. I spent the morning slowly feeding bales of grey fluff into a sluggish machine which rewarded this effort by emitting clouds of grey dust. Soon Lydia and I were wild and woolly, to say nothing of hot, thirsty and bored. “I’m glad it’s you today,” Lydia confided. “Josiah’s just bossy and Mom’s boring.” I tried to keep some semblance of entertaining conversation going, but I began to feel like I was slowly being consumed by a great, grey cloud of oblivion.
My turn for adventure finally arrived after lunch when I volunteered to make an assault on the attic. Josiah and Mom both crowded around, giving me advice, recommendations, precautions and predictions until I became nearly convinced I was headed on a green beret secret mission. Feeling important and somewhat daunted, I climbed the rails and disappeared into the dark attic. Only it wasn’t dark, thanks to several trouble lights dangling from the low ceiling beams. I whipped out my walkie-talkie and signaled the others to start the machine. With a gentle cough, it came to life, blowing flakes of grey in every direction.
My jeans were sagging nearly to my knees by the time I crawled on my belly back out of the addition over Mom and Papa’s room. It must have been at least 120 degrees in there. Insulation clung to me like mohair, giving me the appearance of a woolly, black ape. I squinted through my foggy goggles, trying desperately to see through the thick murk. I couldn’t help thinking how it would be easier to see and breath without this encumbrances, but a quick try proved me wrong. Black gunk plugged my nose and burned my eyes. The spiritual parallels were smothering. How often I blame the protections the Lord has given me for the very smothering they are trying to protect me from! The fresh air breezing up from the attic entrance seemed like a whisper of another world as I worked my way toward the final feet of my project. Lydia’s head poked up through the hole, looking like a bizarre gas-mask. “How many bails left?” I demanded. “We’re on the last one,” her voice smiled from somewhere under the layers of white dust mask. “Hooray!” I held the hose up and let the insulation flutter out around the ceiling beams.
And then the machine had stopped. I tossed the hose down through the hole in the laundry room ceiling and swung my legs over the edge. With a sputter, the machine came to life again, blowing heavy, grey insulation around the laundry room in flurries. “Stop!” I shrieked, jumping down from the ladder, over the washer and dryer and rushing outside where Mom was allowed the last few bits to run through the hungry hose. Surprised, she looked up, comprehended and flipped off the machine. I covered my eyes in the bright light, ripped off my dust-mask and breathed.
It's amazing the way my perspective can change in such a short time. Normally a ninety-five degree day feels blistering--this time in felt blissful.