After weeks with hardly a day approaching freezing, the icicles were thick and growing. Crystal bars across the windows became longer and in some places the thick shafts threatened to pull off the gutters. But there weren’t just long, pointy stalactites. I had frozen waterfalls, luminescent curtains that hung down from the eaves of the house.
I knocked some low ones off by reaching on tip-toe with a garden rake, hearing their satisfying tinkle as they shattered on the ground like glass. I hired a brother firefighter, who at eighteen knows no fear, to climb my porch roof and rip down those within reach. From my open second floor bedroom window I waged war with a broom handle and most of the frozen stilettos fell silently into the snow, only a little of the icy shrapnel hitting me and landing harmlessly on the floor where the pieces quickly faded into puddles. I knocked off a few by tossing a softball at them, though retrieving the ball in deep snow wasn’t easy. It was like a carnival game and when I was done I almost wished for more to throw at even though there were no Kewpie dolls or stuffed animals to win.
Of course, there was still plenty of snow on the roof and it didn’t take more than a few days for the icicles to regrow like a starfish regenerating a lost limb. The jagged fringe with its late afternoon prismatic sparkle soon returned, and so did my worries about the roof and water seeping into the walls.
But then we had a day of sun with temperatures around 40 degrees for the first time in over a month. The icicles started dripping rapidly by mid morning, and late in the day I began hearing a deep ripping sound followed by thunderous crashes. Chunk by chunk the glacial fringe along the roof began to fall, sometimes rattling windows and causing the whole house to shudder. By day’s end the fangs of ice were gone leaving just truncated nubs.
One day of clear sky and modest warmth had put to shame my best efforts over the course of weeks. But I reveled with a sense of triumph. Though winter wasn’t finished, the biggest threat to my house was gone.
Within a day, cold weather returned and icicles began regrowing. Not more than soda straws, they lack the grandeur of January’s monster spikes. And despite all the worry and energy that went into battling them, I miss the decorative crenellations along the edge of the roof. The house looks so plain without them.