Monday, April 1, 2013

Killer icicles

Исчезаю в весне, I disappear in spring,
в толпе,
in the crowd,
в лужах, 
in the puddles,
в синеве.
in the blue.
И не ищите. 
And don't look for me.
Мне так хорошо...
  I feel so good...

April 1st, hooray! This morning a warm breeze lifted the spirits of everyone I saw out on the streets. Yesterday we walked past a dozen burly men huddled on the staircase of a beauty shop, hurriedly puffing away on their cigarettes under an overhang while the rains poured down. Today people are standing around on the sidewalk like newly-replanted flowers, smoking, talking on cell phones, just enjoying the promise of spring.

Fortunately, this also means that soon your chances of death by icicle or roof ice will be reduced to zero.
melting away!
Immediately after last week's storm, citizens of the city went to work to reduce this danger. I saw men up on roofs, nothing but a bare rope tied around their waists, clearing snow by pushing it down onto the pavement below. Others leaned out their windows with long poles, smashing the heavy icicles that dangled precariously overhead. As the snow began to melt, even the fattest icicles whittled down into gnarled stalactites, dangerous ice knives that decorated all the buildings in town.

They even grew from clothes that had been left out on clotheslines during the storm. Up to three feet long, they waited in the weak sunlight and barely-above-freezing temperatures. Or worse- frozen snow or ice would hang off the side of the roof. Sidewalks were reduced by half, roped off with a warning tape to prevent pedestrians from walking underneath the melting hazards.
 Other walkways were covered with fencing (also great to stop crumbling bricks!).
As I was walking through downtown last week, chunks of ice smashed into the pavement several feet ahead of me. Everyone on the sidewalk quickly looked up and, seeing they were safe for the moment, froze. A man happened to be walking in that exact spot - he threw up his arms over his head and ran towards me. As he exited the danger zone, the cascade stopped. People hesitated for a moment, unsure to proceed or not. Two people resumed course only to again become the victims of another roof ice landslide, protecting their heads while the fist-sized chunks rained down around them. Then, another moment of silence. Being in a hurry, I threw up my hands and ran, hopping over the ice fragments on the sidewalk. After I cleared the risky part, again the sounds of falling ice filled the air. And then again, a silence. A mother and her young charge grasped hands and ran past. Perhaps someone was clearing ice of the top of the building, or perhaps it was just a coincidence, I don't know. I'm just glad this situation only happened to me twice this winter.
I tried looking for information about these situations in the English press- nothing. In Russian? Loads of press, year after year.
But thankfully it's April and the time of killer icicles is coming to an end!

Here's what you can expect over the next several months, a spring timeline of sorts:

April: Brave picnics and budding leaves.
Read this: Зелений гай and the ☭ metro stop, Shashlik in the spring

May: Bright flowers, Easter, Victory Day, real picnic season starts, rowboat rentals along the Lopan open. If you're in Odessa, it's not too early to hit up the beach.
Read this: The Lopan River is open for business!, A picnic to celebrate the May holidays, Odessa: Otrada Beach

June: Fresh fruit, swimmers in the local rivers, occasional thunderstorms, long picnics.
Read this: Fresh apricots, Kyivska Metro and the Zhuravlevsky hydropark, Grigorovski Forest, River Picnic

To everyone going through early spring right now- hang in there! : ) Soon the world around us will explode into color and all this grayness will be a distant memory.

Screenshot of today's weather report- 65 F!!!! See the black arrow? The text in the red box translates to Warning! Ice is falling off roofs! Try to walk no closer than 3-4 meters to buildings!


  1. I go a little nuts here when I get those looks if I'm out on the street with the kids. "How can you take your kids out in this?" How can I keep them inside? It will be warm soon and this stuff should melt by May.