Some of them then have open channels across the pavement to the road (which are invariably woefully inadequate for the amount of water they are expected to contain)… Some have a smart looking stone receptacle with a concave catcher, which then negates its own existence by having a big gap in one side to simply direct the water onto the pavement…
Some (like these ones) just suddenly finish and spew their liquidy load right across your path.
[and those who have followed these ramblings for some time may remember that some are spiky bastards which will jump out and eat your best wool coat at a moments notice]
When walking the streets in warmer (though obviously still precipitous) weather, it isn’t the most pleasant thing to be attacked by the rain from above, and have rivers of the blighter threatening to periodically soak your feet from below…
…but having such an ill-considered system in a city renowned for obscenely cold and icy winters is just downright irresponsible and turns a walk down the pavement into a treacherous obstacle course of icy patches and even icier patches.
It is said (and just as vehemently refuted) that Eskimos (who I’m pretty sure I’m not allowed to mention any more) have 2/5/99 words for snow… Sorry, that’s 2[stroke]5[stroke]99 (* delete as applicable depending on your viewpoint and which article on the matter you have most recently read), rather than 2nd May 1999 (or for our American cousins 5th February 1999 ?!?) words for snow, because of course that wouldn’t make any sense.
Whatever the truth of that matter, I now have around a dozen words for the kinds of slippery Saint Pete’s pavements get… And each requires a slightly different technique to negotiate as safe a traversal as possible (even with a lifetime of experience I don’t believe 100% safety can ever be assured).
After a few days of snow they send out some immigrant-labour with special tools to break up the hard packed ground ice. Sadly they seem even less inclined to do a proper job than I am when there are facts to research, so what we end up with is this pock-marked moonscape effect.
Very beautiful, but a nightmare to walk on. You’d think stepping in the craters would be a viable option (and I can promise you that the raised ice will give you no traction at all), but sadly those craters are generally filled with slushy water, so unless you have waterproof shoes on (which I always now do), it becomes virtually impassable.
To my mind though, the most dangerous looks completely free of ice… unless you catch the subtle glimmer of light reflecting off it from just the right angle, which is the only warning that this is in fact the most frictionless surface known to man… Anyone still busying themselves with the folly of trying to create a perpetual motion machine could do worse than start here.
I’m amazed that there aren’t more dead old people! You know how they always like to make far more of a fuss than is necessary when they have a tumble… By this I mean old people who have made so much fuss that they have died, not people who are dead old, of which there are plenty… So maybe a lifetime of experience does help?
Anyway, I was walking back through town with a Russian friend the other night and bemoaning the fact that I have so much trouble staying upright (so much trouble that I often don’t, hence I was at the time sporting a suspected fractured wrist)… He told me to walk like a penguin…
“Learn from nature,” he said. “Penguins don’t fall on the ice!”
I said goodbye to him at the Metro station and continued my walk home… I got about half-way there when I reached a clear bit of pavement… or rather (as I soon realised) I just hadn’t seen the warning shimmer. My feet started going in different directions, both to each other and to the directions I had intended for them. Walk like a penguin… Walk like a penguin!… I fell heavily on my arse.
So I checked and penguins do fall over… All over YouTube it seems!