From the title, one would hope that my newest fascination would be with diamonds—diamond earrings, diamond bracelets, diamond rings. But that’s so not me. I wore a plain gold band for the first twenty years of my marriage. Then my husband surprised me with a diamond band. We were in Vegas. He thought I needed some bling. The first few months, I would hold my hand so the diamonds would flash. Eventually I forgot I was wearing it. Yet when I had to have it resized, my hand felt naked. I missed the flash. But this post is not about flashy accessories. It’s about real ice—the ice rink that materialized in my driveway last week; a thick treacherous pond that encased the bottom of my driveway, requiring me to put the truck in 4WD in order to leave; a slick, shining ice flow that required crampons to cross. This ice should have never been allowed to form. This ice had to be destroyed.
photo credit: youngest daughter
After the blizzard a few weeks ago, we failed to clear our driveway completely. My husband set the snow blower so that it left an inch of snow over the gravel. After our storms, we found just driving over this layer of snow caused it to dissipate. We have a gentle slope from the street down to our house. The area in front of the garage is flat, protected from the sun by trees; consequently snow melts more slowly there. We didn’t use any snowmelt product because I was under the mistaken impression that one shouldn’t bother salting gravel driveways. So basically, I’m confessing to ignorance. And in today’s world, there’s no excuse for ignorance.
At first the snow was light and powdery. We could drive over it and it became slush. This was not a problem. Then the temperature rose during the day, melting snow, only to fall in the evening, freezing the slush. On Tuesday, February 19, it rained.
Now I had a highly productive day: I vacuumed and dusted the entire house; I wrote a chapter of my novel; I took care of my grandson because my daughter was horribly ill with the flu. I looked out my office window and watched the water puddling over the slush in the driveway. I checked weather.com. Temperatures were supposed to drop down to the teens. By midnight I would have an ice field.
I became fixated on the driveway. I had visions of our cars spinning in circles on the ice. I worried that my parents would try to cross it and fall. What if the girls next door ran down the driveway to borrow eggs? Most of the driveway was fine. The bottom was impassable. This was a liability issue.
My husband and I had discussed paving the driveway. This would allow us to set the snow blower on a lower setting and put out ice melt before it snows. We have a long driveway. We like the way the gravel looks during the other three seasons. Other people have gravel driveways. We must be doing something wrong. That evening I skipped dinner because I wasn’t hungry, sat at the computer and read articles on how to clear a gravel driveway of snow.
I learned that light snow (less than an inch) should be brushed aside with a push broom. After I wrote my post, “A Snowy Day,” I cleared half the driveway with a push broom. I also cleared the bottom of the driveway with the broom while my husband was getting out the snow blower on Christmas. I was pleased to find out that using the broom or a rake on a gravel driveway was a good thing to do. And that we should do this after we use the snow blower. Then we should use a spreader to put snow melt over our driveway. We have a spreader. It’s in the garage loft because I figured I didn’t need it until spring. So now I know how to clear the driveway. I was ready to start before the ice formed.
Only my stomach wouldn’t let me. I didn’t feel like eating because I was coming down with the flu. You don’t need details. I slept all of Wednesday. Thursday I found my daughter had posted the ice field on Facebook and tagged me. I was well enough to sit in my office and stare out at the ice. It had to be an inch thick. It was smooth, shiny, slippery. Some parts of it were thin so that the gravel showed, making it treacherous. Beyond the field I could see that the driveway was clear, but the turnaround space was a frozen pond. My parents had to cross this because the senior dial-a-ride could not come down the driveway. UPS and the postal service left packages out on the street. I stared at the ice and planned my attack.
I really wasn’t better on Friday. Snow was predicted for the weekend so I was determined to get rid of the ice hazard. I sent my daughter out to the grocery store and hardware store. I told her to buy bags and bags of ice melt, the pet friendly type. She came back with a pretty purple one. That afternoon I spread two bags of ice melt over our skating rink. I went back indoors and waited.
The day was warmer, but not warm enough to thaw the ice. The ice melt, however, did dissolve and soften it some. Using a shovel, I was able to break some sections of ice into chunks. Then I raked it to the sides. While I was working on this, the UPS truck ventured down the driveway. He stopped at the ice flow. “Wait until spring,” he advised me. But I couldn’t. The ice had to go. I learned that it was better to hit the ice about a half an inch from the edge with the tip of my shovel in order to crack it. Then it would shatter into chunks. I thought of the disappearing ice flows in the Artic as I made my ice flow vanish. I managed to clear large sections, establishing places that car tires could get traction and a path up the driveway. Then I went back to bed.
We didn’t get the predicted snow last weekend. It was warm enough that I thought the rest of my ice would melt. But it didn’t. So on Monday, I tackled the remainder: another bag of ice melt, another day of smashing ice with a shovel, another day of raking the chunks off the area. For all my work, I got a blood blister under a rowing callous. Then I had a relapse and spent Tuesday in bed.
This week the temperatures have been warm during the day, in the forties. The snow is melting. When I got up this morning, it was warm enough that I didn’t bother with hat or gloves. The mud puddles on the driveway did not ice over during the night. In another week, most of the snow will be gone. The piles of ice chunk have almost completely melted. My ice flow would have faded away on its own.
But I am ready for the next storm. With any luck, it won’t be until December