I whine a lot before I go outside in the winter, especially about taking the lights down. If you’ve ever experienced Chicago in January, you probably know why. If you’ve ever experienced Chicago in January up on a 15′ ladder in the wind, we’re definitely on the same wavelength. You see, putting them up isn’t so bad – usually at least one of the days between Thanksgiving and the following Monday is reasonably warm. But after New Years, it can be a bit of challenge finding a day when you can keep the feeling in your fingers long enough to get the job done.
I went up on the ladder this weekend to make an attempt, despite the fact that the thermometer warned me before going outside that it was 14 degrees. But that was only the beginning of my troubles.
I started at the end of the light strings that go around the edge of the roof – that is, farthest from the outlet. Rationale being that if I got really cold, the house would still be partly lit if I stopped in the middle. Don’t ask me why this made sense at the time, I realize how strange that would look.
So down come the lights, until just a few minutes in, when I get to where the last string of lights joins up with the next-to-last string. There’s a little extra cable there with no lights on it, so I had simply stuffed the joined plugs and extra cable the first place I could find that wasn’t visible from the street – into the gutter. Again, seemed like a great idea at the time.
Fast forward to Christmas Eve. We had a fantastic ice storm that day – freezing rain all day. I say fantastic because we really didn’t need to drive anywhere, and it was beautiful, even if treacherous (more on that in this post). One of the marginally less beautiful side effects was that the gutters had not been spared from filling up and freezing. No problem – who needs gutters in the winter anyway. It will melt in the spring, right?
Fast forward again – to this past Sunday, up on the ladder. Here’s what the lights looked like, right where they joined.
The cables on the left and right are the two light strings. They are [very securely] joined somewhere inside the ice.
Turns out all three of the strings of lights that wrapped around that part of the house were petrified in the same way. Two hours later, thanks to a hammer and a screwdriver, I had freed all three strings. Most came out with huge chunks of ice still attached:
And I’m proud to say that in the end, I only broke one bulb. I think.