Ice blocks

Every winter I develop ice block.

Drainage required a low spot in the driveway, and once the snow starts falling ice builds up on its lower edge, the spot where concrete turns to Colorado dirt and the path the water needs to take in order to leave. However, a giant pine to the south shades both that spot and the next twenty feet. Winter shade rarely stays above freezing for more than an hour during a day, and with the draining edge blocked, what I get every year is a giant sheet over part of my driveway.

It’s not a problem unless you’re walking along that edge of the driveway. It’s out of the way of the garage or the walkway to the front door. My daughter loves it because she pretends to be skating; it’s not always a great look for a girl 18 months away from college, but kids do what kids do. We have to drive over it, but there’s no harm in that, is there?

Except here is the thing about it. Because the frozen edge blocks drainage, every bit of water that melts ends up ice. The sheet grows with every freeze, and on warm days the density of the ice prevents anything below the first quarter inch to melt.

It’s a mess.

I know the solution is to shovel the drainage spot as soon as any snow falls, because driving over men a half inch can start the ice block process. But at some point every year, I am too tired, or too lazy or too distracted to spend the five minutes it takes, and then I’ve got the block. I’ve got one now, mocking me as I drive by every day.

The only way I’ve found to attack the ice block is brute force. I have a pry bar — six feet of pointed, heavy iron — that is effective. I take the bar out when it’s sunny, and I start to chip away. I aim the point into the edge of the ice, and a piece breaks off. I do that a few times and I shovel out the fragments, leaving an ice cliff behind.

The neat thing about this process is that after I break off a section, the next section becomes easier to attack. I start at the edges, though, because starting at the middle doesn’t work; all you end up with is short holes in the ice, no nearer to being done and much less attractive to look at. Plus, they refill as soon as the top melts and refreezes. The only way to attack the ice is to start on the edges, breaking away the periphery that prevents me from getting to the root of the problem. But my efforts are always rewarded. The ice always eventually breaks away and a hour later (or a day or a week, depending on how large I’ve let it get) I’m at the middle, the deepest, most compressed and hesitant spot. Then I’m down to concrete and the freshly melted water flows again.

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