the Sweet Smell of Burning Fur (plonq) wrote,
the Sweet Smell of Burning Fur

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Ice ice baby

The city owns the fountain and surrounding park in front of the building where I work. While the area usually serves as a hangout for vagrants and drug dealers, the city often hosts events there. During the summer they have a week-long music festival in the square, where local bands come and perform during the lunch hour. The folks who organize their winter events are not quite as well organized though.

Last winter they lined the area around the fountain with a dozen or so wooden boxes which they filled with packed snow. I don't know if they were supposed to be part of a snow sculpting project, but the boxes of snow sat untouched for months through a number of freeze and thaw cycles until spring finally came in earnest. After a couple days of rain the boxes disappeared, leaving several messy piles of slushy snow where they had been, and after another week the snow quietly disappeared in the night. If that had been the plan all along then I don't think the pay-off was worth the set-up. As art projects go, the result was rather anticlimactic.

It appears that last year's debacle was not enough to dissuade the committee from trying again this year. Back in November, or maybe early December I showed up for work one morning and noticed that the fountain had been roughly encircled by vertical cardboard cylinders. It looked like somebody had raided the bathroom of the titans and made off with the cardboard tubes from their toilet paper rolls. The cynical side of me thought, "Oh look, it's another ill-fated winter project by the city." On the other hand, one would assume that they learned from last year's mistake. I wondered if they were planning to fill them with snow or water, and that question was answered a week later when I spied one of the flower-watering trailers parked beside one of the tubes while a bored maintenance worker pumped green-tinged water out of a translucent plastic water tank into the tube.

I have always wondered about the water in those tanks. I have never been sure if green tinge in the water was due to algae, plant food, or just a trick of the light. Well the pictures below tell me that it's not just a trick of the light. A couple of weeks ago they removed the cardboard wrappings, leaving a group of green ice pillars circling the fountain.

The ice clearly has a greenish tinge to it. I would have to take a measuring tape to them to confirm this, but they look to be about 8' tall, and 24" diameter. I am too lazy just now to do the math, but that strikes me as being a fair volume of ice in each one. It took them weeks to fill these.
Ice pillar

You can get an idea of how many trips they had to make when they filled the cylinders with water. It's almost like counting tree rings, but in this case you're counting trips rather than years. In this case it almost looks like a shot of Neptune -- if somebody dropped Neptune and cracked it first.
Counting the rings

On the west side of the fountain, they have strung rope lights up the trees, and affixed blue spotlights over the ice monoliths. There are no lights on the east side of the fountain, and I don't recall seeing them turned on at any point.
Overhead lights

Here is Icehenge in all its glory. It almost looks like there was supposed to be a tenth column on the left.

So what are they going to do with the ice? It is getting a bit late in the season to carve them, but I wonder if the ice itself is the art? I have to admit that it adds a stark, somewhat surreal air to the park in front of our building.
Tags: ice, snow, winter
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