The temperature here in Champaign-Urbana has finally gone above freezing and the sun is out. Hooray! We are starting to have dripping from icicles on the roof eaves and puddles forming in the middle of humongous piles of dirty frozen snow. This has seemed to me to be an endless winter!
Early in the winter a friend e-mailed me a slide show of photos taken in winter in Russia. For a long while these appalling pics kept me from whining about our local conditions. I was also humbled by how much snow Chicago got a little while back. In many ways, we were lucky not to have it worse . . .
That said, however, what we have had instead of very heavy snow is a horrid sort of conglomerate that could be called "winter cement." Just as cement is a mix of smooth material with gritty stone mixed in, we received layer upon layer of snow mixed with tiny hail that froze into solid blocks.
We've been pouring on the snow melt, using a kind that is easier on the environment and on sensitive animal paws than the ordinary salt. Sand has helped too with broad areas of ice.
One friend recently said she had to use a garden pick axe to chop pieces off of her driveway. Although my stepson has been very kind in shoveling here for us, the snow plow pushed a ton of impossible-to-shovel winter cement against the end of the drive. Then we had some sunshine during the day that was just enough to melt the topmost layer, which promptly re-froze after dark -- creating the slickest, scariest, most dangerous stuff I've tried to walk on. Of course, neither I nor my husband walk very well either, so it has been tricky indeed and we've spent a lot of time indoors.
Weekend before last, we decided to venture out on Sunday afternoon (the sun was shining a bit) to go to the concert at the Champaign library for our favorite local Brazilian band, Desafinado. So we got stuck backing out of our driveway. I eased back and forth a little tiny bit each time and finally we got out ... whew! Then I'm driving down the street when enormous chunks of ice fall off the top of the van down onto the windshield and pop the wipers straight up. Fortunately, there was no one in back and we were able to stop to clear it off.
By the way, the concert was great. Elis Artz sang a number of Brazilian samba favorites and quite a few new tunes as well. Luciano Costa played the mandolin, George Turner was on guitar, and Tom Paynter played flute and melodica. We missed Giraldo's congas, and I'm sorry to say I don't know the name of the new drummer. But we had a terrific time, and it was good to get out for live music again, despite the winter weather challenges.
Tonight we will attempt to go out (hoping that not everything that's melting now will be transformed back into an ice sheet) for the Lara Driscoll Trio. More later!