Rain gutters – by Justyna

4 Nov

I have been swallowing gigantic amounts of vitamin C and calcium of late. The doom and gloom is upon us. The Polish Golden Autumn (direct translation, thank you) is slowly drawing to an end, and the gray, wet and bleak is setting in. You wake up and it’s dark, you come home from work and it’s dark and the deciduous trees are slowly transforming into skeletons. And unless the fluffy snow comes, there will be five months of this. Yay for the Continent. Yay for seasonal changes. Bloody yay. If we were Sweden then our suicide rates would rise significantly. But we are not. Because we do get some sun light during the day. So no excuses. We just become a little more fluey, a little more stifled, a little more lazy and a lot more grumpy. If I wasn’t pregnant I would be looking forward to guzzling loads of red wine. It’s a romantic transition really, from the hot days of half liter cold beers, to voluptuous glasses of deep reds. On the upside scarf fashions are pretty cool. As is the possibility of wearing trendoid boots. This lasts about a second though. When you hit March and you’re still wearing the same freakin’ shin-high footwear, you get over the fashionista perk.

Gutters though, right. Rain gutters. So in Oz obviously when summer kicks in, vertigo-free house owners start clearing their rain  gutters to avoid possible bush fire nightmare scenarios. Kazek on our last visit to Sydney was a spectator of this behaviour. The protagonist, my quick and nimble cousin Kukuś, was on the roof of his Ashfield granny flat, clearing the gutters out. I was hoping for some spider action but none came. Also not sure what the actual fire hazard potential is like in suburban Ashfield, but Kukuś was wearing a black wife-beater and thongs to complete the quintessential Aussie feel, and both Kazek and I (as quasi tourists) were very satisfied.

Being late autumn in Poland, I have become somewhat nostalgic about rain gutters with this recent blog topic. Mainly because clearing out rain gutters from dead leaves and twigs is not a practice at all here. It’s not even an issue. Instead cleaning your gutters in winter is a whole different nerve wrecking experience I have come to expect as a Krakow local.

Negligence law in Poland states that each home/house/apartment building is responsible for clearing snow off their roof and chopping down icicles from rain gutters to avoid any possible accidents for bypassers and pedestrians. You are forced to rely on the civic responsibility of your neighbours to do the right thing, because let’s face it, the fines and pissy compensation pay-outs are hardly a deterrent. This is what a rain gutter with icicles looks like. A pretty quick way to the Gates of St Peter, yes?

In fact there are horror stories pretty much every winter. The one that stuck (ha!) in my mind was about the girl who was walking home from school and an icicle broke off and pierced her skull. Yes it did. And she died. Similarly when roofs are not cleared from the snow that weighs tonnes and tonnes, they cave in and people who happen to be inside also die. Or get really, really injured. In 2006 there was an International Postal Pigeon Exhibition (yes Beth, you heard right) in Katowice where the roof caved in because organisers failed to organise roof snow clearing teams, and some 65 people died. The initial layer of snow was not cleared, which later became wet in the plus temperatures, then it froze into solid ice when the minus temperatures hit again, then more snow fell to cover the first layer of ice, and hey presto we have a national tragedy. Maybe a little less dramatic than a raging bushfire, but a tragedy nonetheless.

So one can be somewhat skeptical about the onset of fluffy winter. It’s a death trap out there. Hooray for the gable roof I say.


Also I might get Kazek to wear his bike helmet once the icicles start forming.

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2 Responses to “Rain gutters – by Justyna”

  1. Tabitha November 5, 2011 at 1:19 am #

    My god, those poor pigeon fanciers! At least they died doing what they loved.

    And surely – surely – more people die cleaning snow off their roof than from icicles through the brain and collapsed roofs (just like more people die from falling off their roofs than from bushfires during the Australian summer)?!

    In any case, this is a great post.

  2. Beth November 7, 2011 at 3:13 am #

    International Postal Pigeon Exhibition? More about this please?

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