Thursday, January 18, 2007

Frozen Water Is Amazing

Venturing out into the city yesterday, I couldn't get over how amazing ice really is. I put forth the following for your consideration:

It's heavy. When you look at ice and snow, it appears to be light and lilty. However, the weight must be enormous. I have a tree that extends out over the driveway, but the branches are well above our cars. When I went out to my car yesterday, though, the branches were weighed down into my bike rack. We also have a large live oak tree in the front that currently has a major limb (about a foot in diameter) bent almost to the street. I figure if we get anymore accumulation of ice, that branch will break right off. In the meantime, can that branch go back to where it belongs if the ice melts? When I went running at Town Lake last night, I found myself ducking under low-hanging branches that I've never worried about before. All because ice weighs a lot.

It's tenacious. Have you ever tried to get 1-inch layers of ice off your car? Or even if it's not that thick -- ever tried to get your key into a lock with a millimeter or two of ice laid over it? When we got to our car after our flight the other night, it was completely iced over. It was impossible to get the key into the trunk lock (I have an old car without the fancy controller that allows you to unlock your trunk at the press of a button) or the passenger door. It was a good thing there was a big SUV next to the driver's side door, so we could actually get in the car that way to start warming things up. Once we were in, it took an onslaught of heated winshield wiper fluid and defrosting air thirty minutes to allow us to proceed home. Yesterday's ice removal from cars took nearly an hour.

It's pretty. If you can look out over a field with each and every blade of grass individually encased in an ice sheath, and not find it beautiful, then you are a cold and heartless bastard. Or you really don't like the cold. While not as fun to play with as snow, it leaves the same impression of untouched beauty that freshly fallen snow does. Then, the icicles that have formed around town are outstanding to look at. We have a couple of 18-inch, 1-inch diameter gems hanging off our roof, and I've enjoyed watching them form -- growing off the dripping water from the melting ice on the roof itself. The knobbly nature implies a brittleness that just isn't there. Last night after dinner, my husband and I fenced with icicles, and I couldn't get over how strong those little boogers are. We pushed one into the ground like a wooden stake, and I'll be interested to see the hole that is left behind when the icicle spear disappears.

Meanwhile, I found a feature I would really like to see in my car (other than the push-button trunk unlocking feature). There were several times while out and about that I wished I could make my car shake itself off like a dog that's just emerged from a bath. Instead, large chunks of ice dislodged themselves from parts of my car while driving along and crashed off with a thunderous noise. I worried that would be dangerous to some car behind me (but I was very proud that all the drivers I saw were keeping safe distances between each other), and all could have been solved by a nice vigorous shaking of the car. Do you think Detroit would listen if I suggested such a feature?


James said...

I spent a lot of time playing with icicles as well. I'm from New England and used to take all this for granted but after nearly 18 years in TX, it's all new again and makes me miss winter, but as my brother always says, Texans never have to shovel 100 pounds of heat out of the driveway.

Heather said...

I certainly don't want to shovel snow. Part of what makes the stuff so great is that it's rare.

Monica said...

I just know I don't want to be in the car when it's shaking itself like a dog!