Thursday, January 22, 2009

This Is Normal. Well, Here It Is.

Yes, I know, loyal Beet-nik. Two posts in one day. No, I don't have a million more productive things to do.

I have been trying to get pictures of this for some time now. When it snows, the building maintenance crew goes up on the roof to clean it. Since we are on the top floor, I can hear them up there, tromping around. Sometimes they even access the roof through our stairwell, and I can hear the locked gate squeak when they pull it open.

Most days, all I can see is the occasional shovelful of snow raining down past my windows. Today, I got lucky.

The sound of shovels scraping on pavement creeps into our dreams at night. Teams of Central Asians hit the streets as the snow falls and work around the clock to clear sidewalks, parking lots, and, well, roofs.

This morning I could hear the shovels and a small snowplow in back of the building. They also had someone with a bullhorn shouting to, what I finally realized were, the guys on the roof.

These pictures were taken while standing on my stepladder in the kitchen. The glass in our windows is so wavy, I had to use an open window to get decent images. Don't worry: the opening is quite small. No risk of falling out.

Looking at what they were doing, I see that they do not clear the entire roof. The weight of the snow must not be an issue. Or at least not today. What they are doing is clearing the downspouts, probably to prevent icicles.

Icicles are a formidable hazard in Moscow: people are killed by falling icicles every winter. The City has strict ordinances about keeping icicles off eaves. As a result, you often see workers knocking them off the edges of buildings. To protect passersby (from both random falling icicles and snow/ice thrown off the roof by workers), they cordon off the sidewalk in question with what looks like crime scene tape. As I'm sure I've mentioned before, this usually results in forcing pedestrians to walk in the street. This rock-and-a-hard-place is one of the many unique features of Moscow life.

Below: there's more than one guy up there. Here's his snow.

The ladder you see is, indeed, our fire escape.

When I first got to Moscow, I thought these low roof fences were to keep the snow from falling on people. In Vienna, I saw a simpler, more stylized architectural feature that served to hold snow.

Then I realized the fence was to keep YOU from falling off the roof.


Tina in CT said...

That definitely qualifies as a job that has risks. I wonder how safe those roof fences actually are.

Real Estate Feast--South Florida real estate blog said...

Got down to 35 degrees (f) here two nights ago. I was out knocking the icicles off my front porch. Everybody was bundled up like they were treking the artic tundra, me included. Slept under two blankets and a down comforter with a cap on my head!

TRex said...

They cleared my roof @10:00am but I'm used to this stuff.

Kelsey said...

In Quebec, they do the same thing. It's kind of fun to watch them toss the stuff off into the street.

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