13 January 2011

Snow Shovelers in High Places

It's been snowing a lot here in St. Petersburg, and we've had a terrible time getting around. Unlike in New York, where buildings are responsible for keeping their stretch of sidewalk clear and free of snow, nobody seems to be in charge of removing snow from walkways. Rebecca and I have both fallen, as has basically everyone in our class. The streets are so treacherous that, eventually, everyone goes down.
Something that the city's inhabitant refuse to stand for is a snowy roof. Everywhere we go, people are shoveling snow down onto the streets.
There are two reasons. Firstly, the buildings are relatively old and the roofs leak. When the snow melts, it might end up on someone's floor. Our teacher has a lot of problems with this - she tells us about sleeping with bowls on the bed to catch dripping water and ruined ceilings. The second reason? It's better to get the snow down in a controlled way, instead of having it slip off and crush some unsuspecting pedestrian below.
The shovelers often work in teams, with two or three people up above and one person below who warns people and shouts up when a car is approaching. They usually rope off the sidewalk, too, so that nobody wanders into the fall zone. The snow makes an unusual "WHUMP - WHUMP" sound as it hits the pavement.
This is the courtyard behind our apartment - the snow hasn't been removed, just piled up high in the garden plots around the trees and against the buildings. During the last snowfall we watched people shoveling the snow that was being pushed off the edge of the buildings. Any more snow and they won't be able to get their cars in.

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