Sunday, February 13, 2011

Winter Paints an Ugly Picture

I'm a big fan of winter. I love going outside to paint snow. I can't tell you how much satisfaction I get from seeing all the subtle color play going on out there. Winter has it's own language and it's a beautiful one.

Unfortunately, as much as I love snow, we have had record snowfall amounts here in Connecticut and now it's turning into an ugly season. A neighbors roof collapsed two weeks ago. Thankfully, she was able to get out of the house before it fell. The house is a total loss however and this is sad news. After this happened and with a forecast calling for more heavy snow on the way with possible ice, many of us scrambled to have roofs cleared in whatever way we could. I stood in line for an hour and a half waiting for a truck to come in with roof rakes at our local hardware store. I had made a call to Lowes thinking that they would have what I needed but instead got a big 'nope' when I asked if they had roof rakes and then I got a "I have no idea' when I asked if they were getting any roof rakes in. The guy was about as pleasant as Satan.

The back side of my house doesn't get sun and so I had almost 4 feet of snow up there on the roof. I had ice dams along the entire house that were at least a foot thick. My wife's studio is an old back porch that we converted and so the roof is almost flat. We started to get a leak. I turned off the heat to the room and set up a house fan to blow cold air at the spot where the water was leaking. It did the trick. I also filled panty-hose with ice melt and put a few up by the gutters so that it could work a channel into the ice dams and give a place for water to go.

Instead of spending time painting, I spent what felt like an eternity working to get snow off the whole house. I fell into a snow drift at one point and couldn't figure out how to get myself back up onto my feet. The combination of snow that was almost up to my waist and a roof rake that measures 21 feet long, made for a very comical approach to snow removal. It worked though.

We've had over 80 inches of snow since Winter began. We've had a nor'easter about once a week. Thankfully this past week we've only seen some scattered snow flurries and we've actually had some temperatures above freezing.

The farmers in Connecticut have really been hit by these record snowfall amounts. I've read that over 156 structures have fallen so far in the state and Winter is sure to rear it's ugly head some more before the season is over. In Woodstock, we have had 4 barn collapses that I know of. From a painters perspective, these are buildings that I love to paint. I'm heartbroken. I feel bad especially for the people who's lives are affected and for any animals that have been hurt or killed by these events.

A few winters ago, we had a couple heavy snowfalls and one of my favorite barns to paint in the town of Pomfret collapsed. One particular day, I loaded up my car and headed there to paint. I had a bad feeling on my drive there and sure enough, when I pulled into the parking area, the barn roof had collapsed and my heart sunk.

One of the barns that fell last week, was one of Connecticut's oldest barns. There was so much character to this barn and the size of the barn was impressive. The cupola up on the roof was fantastic. The owner had told me a few years back that he had tried to get some funding to save the barn but that it was too far gone. I've been painting it a lot since then, kinda like spending time with a friend. I painted it during each season in 2010. When we started getting record snowfall amounts in February, I just knew that this would be the season that it would come down. I took over 300 photos of the barn in January and February and it looked stunning in all that snow.

Here are some photos of a painting I did last Fall and a couple from the aftermath of the collapse last week.



2 comments:

Pattie Wall said...

So sad David. You have had a lot of snow!! At least you knew it was an impending situation and prepared for it. Still...nothing can help at that final falling down stage. Living where I do, in Kansas, the same thing applies. You get used to a certain landmark and cool style of special structures and eventually the WIND takes 'em down or blows the roofs off and then later there is a collapse. Guess that is one of our jobs, to record the history before it's gone. Paint on!

David Lussier said...

Well said Pattie!