Beauty and the Beast

Taking an afternoon walk through our neighborhood last weekend, my husband and I noted several beautiful and almost sculptural icicles on houses. We challenged one another to discover the longest, the strangest, or the most beautiful ones to share with our readers.  Arriving to Holliston even before the forecast of a potential ice storm earlier this week, these few were preserved in our photos.

This icicle formation (above photo) was one of my favorites.  Attached only by its highest point to the edge of the roof, it looks as if it had been sculpted by the wind!  The curvature of the lower point, free of attachment to the chimney, created a free-falling icicle that was mighty impressive!

Most common during our walk were sightings of roof corner icicles.   Although most of these roof edge icicles were on frequent display,

 Above, I’ve provided photos of two types:  the simple free-fall as well as the more complex free fall past a natural resting place.

Speaking of resting places, in a variation of the roof edge theme, here’s one (above) that I can only imagine grew as gutter drippings landed and froze on the wires below.  This two-step creation process drew my eye.  Chris explained that most of these gutter edge icicles are due to leaves and other debris collecting in the downspout drain of the gutter.

Last, but definitely not least, is the roofline display of glistening icicles (below), the model for electrified strings of Christmas twinkle lights (sometimes remaining on display throughout the year).  These—mostly uniform in length and breadth—hang along the entire roof line—a valiant and impressive display of glittering ice. The extent Jack Frost will go through to create unique and wondrous ice formations is laudable!

But beyond the beauty, danger often lurks.  Remember that not only can falling icicles cause injury and damage to humans and vehicles below, but some icicles are also a sign that attention may be needed to the building as well. 

We well remember the aftermath of a severe Connecticut winter storm.  Melting and refreezing snow on roofs continued for days causing severe ice dams.  (Ice dams:  the ridge or dam of ice that builds up along the lower edge of the roof, blocking snow melt farther up from running freely toward the gutters or ground.) Hardware stores for miles ran out of roof rakes, an instrument we had never imagined.  Our tactic was to pour ice melt into the dissected legs of pantyhose, knotting each.  Chris opened our second storey windows and flung the irregularly packed “legs” onto the roof, hoping they would melt the dams. For months following the storm, discerning viewers might spy pantyhose on roofs for miles!

With little experience with ice dams, many of our friends had expensive water damage to their homes as melting water found its way down walls, behind cabinets, into crevices or worse, created crevices.  If left undiscovered, (although most damage was quite obvious) you can only imagine the potential for mold.  Suffice to say, some icicles are worth investigation. 

For now, we can gawk and admire, wonder and celebrate the ice sculptures of Mother Nature.

Yvette Cain

4 Comments

  1. Jackie Dellicker on February 20, 2021 at 9:02 am

    What a lovely change of pace from all the negative & disturbing news so prevalent every day. Love it. Jackie

  2. Linda Krim on February 21, 2021 at 5:48 pm

    Thank you for the tour through the neighborhood! Looking at the gorgeous glistening icicles hanging from the trees after a snowstorm, I often feel in harmony with mother nature. I have to admit, though, that I appreciate it more when I am looking out my window from the comfort and warmth of my cozy den.

  3. PSimpson on February 24, 2021 at 7:15 am

    We had ice dam problems, until we re-did our roof two years ago.

    No more ice dams! Turns out, there’s a new membrane material which goes up three feet from the roof edge, and it is now required when a new roof is installed. And it’s wonderful!

  4. Paul Saulnier on February 24, 2021 at 7:16 pm

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