Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Around the neighborhood

We've got over two feet of snow here in Connecticut. It's difficult to say how much at the moment, due to drifting, minor melting, and freezing rain. The bottom line is that it is pretty deep out there, and that has been putting some unfortunate restrictions on Chander's exercise. He's not fond of bounding through deep snow. Usually he makes a few bounces, and then decides to settle in and start snacking on the stuff. There isn't anyplace cleared enough for hiking, so we have been limited to walks around the neighborhood.

These walks are far from boring however. In this weather we are practically guaranteed to meet people chipping at ice on their driveway or attempting to find their mailbox in a snowbank. In many ways it has been great for Chandler's continued socialization. However, on Saturday I really wished I had brought my camera. We encountered the local volunteer fire department and their ladder truck while walking by the elementary school. They were busy strapping a snowblower to the underside of the ladder truck's platform. It isn't every day that you get to see a snowblower danging thirty feet in the air while it is being lifted onto a school roof! Chandler was unfortunately less thrilled than me, but I could not really blame him.

Afterward I thought that it might be nice to chronicle one of our walks through the neighborhood, so I took my camera on Sunday. We didn't see any firetrucks, but I did take some photos that show the amount of snow in the area.

As you can see, we are still dealing with the "snow canyons". Most of our walk takes place on a thin strip of sidewalk bounded by high walls of snow. We're very lucky that the entire neighborhood has sidewalks and that the vast majority of the residents are very good about keeping them clear.

*grumble* I can't see much because the snow is so high!

This is a typical driveway. Everyone has huge piles of snow. One of the common complaints on Saturday was that people were running out of places to put it.

Yes, this is what the view would be if I could see over the walls of snow.
In many places the plow has left a snowbank covering a significant portion of the side of the road. It is like our two lane streets have suddenly become narrow one lane roads. This has caused some difficulties with mailboxes, as many are now up to six feet away from the open part of the road. Some people have carved out large chunks of the snowbank so the postman can get to their mailbox.

Mailman? I really don't like the mailman. Whuff!

Others go for a more minimalist approach.

Ok, he does bring me things so I'll admit he's not all bad.
But I still don't have to like him.

With the lack of running exercise, it seems to me that Chandler is acting a bit more silly. One of his favorite things to do is flop down in the middle of a walk and roll in the snow.

Rollin' rollin' rollin'

One important concern when there is this much snow is making sure that the fire hydrants are all accessible. The volunteer fire department can't uncover all of them, so local homeowners are encouraged to help out and make sure they are clear. Whoever cleared this one did a really good job; there is a large area cleared around the hydrant and openings to both the street and the sidewalk.

No, I did not pee on it. That would be too cliché.

Many of the houses have icicles on them.

Yawn. Icicles. Boring.
You can't chew on them if they are stuck to a house.

Some of the icicles have gotten a bit large.

Ok, those two are almost at chewing level...

Some houses have entire sides covered with them.

Not safe? You won't let me get near them? Awwww...

As can be seen in the previous photo, many houses still have their Christmas decorations. I think many have been left where they are because snow has made it so difficult to take then down. However, some decorations must be kept current.

Football? I think I've fetched one of those once.

Unfortunately, because of the cycles of snow, sleet, and freezing rain we have been experiencing, some homeowners have a bit more trouble clearing their sidewalks. I've been very grateful for my snow cleats. I suspect that I would have taken many falls this season without them.

This is the icy downhill sidewalk of death.
I'm not in the photo because I have to walk behind when we get to this hill.

However, the sidewalks are generally preferable to the streets, where the huge snowbanks make it difficult for motorists to see pedestrians. Crossing a street should be done with great caution. Fortunately, many of the people in the corner houses have kindly tunneled through snowbanks so people can quickly return to the sidewalks. Some of these openings can be ten feet long.

They're very popular places for scent marking too!

Unfortunately, not everyone is good about tunneling from the sidewalk to the street. I guess the snow piles can be intimidating.

We end up walking to the tunnel by the mailbox
when we cross this intersection.

Portions of the landscape end up seeming very unfamiliar. That white mound to the right is a holly bush. No, really. It is a bush. See the leaves?

Believe it or not, there is a post and rail fence under there too.

I did mention Chandler likes to roll whenever the snow is not too deep, didn't I?

Rollin' rollin' rollin'

This is a sight you see on many of the houses. People have taken snow rakes and tried to clear snow off the edges of their roof. With all that snow melting on the roof, there is a risk of ice dams forming in the gutters. More than a few houses around the neighborhood are experiencing water damage because the melting snow cannot flow away through the blocked gutters.

Yes, all week there has been at least one person in the neighborhood
trying to clear their roof, every time we walk

Some of those ice dams can be very impressive. Here are some neighbors posing with a block of ice that has been chiseled off the edge of their roof. You can't see it in the photo, but that block was at least four inches thick.

I like visiting them.
The man once gave me cheese while he was barbecuing hamburgers.

...and here is the roof from which that ice came.

It looks like there is a lot more ice up there.

Fortunately for my family, we really haven't had those sorts of problems with ice. My parents are very much into home insulation, so very little heat escapes through our roof. However, the sheer weight of over two feet of snow can be a bit worrisome. There have been several roof collapses in Connecticut over the last week or so. With several more storms predicted, something needed to be done about the problem. Unfortunately, Chandler wasn't quite as happy as the rest of us about the solution.

Ack! Rooftop invaders with highly suspicious shovels!
Woof! Woof! Woof!

However, that is a tale for a later time.

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