by Lisa Tome
If the six shirts and thick jacket Michael Grapes was wearing last week are any indication, he works outdoors.
Grapes and his fellow Charlestown public works crewman Sean Gurney were headed out to tend and check the 17 Ice Eaters which are strategically placed in the water of town-owned property - municipal park and C Dock - at Charlestown Marina.
Tending the Ice Eaters was a tough battle in the whipping wind with temperatures hovering around four degrees and ice in the North East River measuring about six inches thick.
The lines securing the Ice Eaters, which are designed to keep ice from forming, prevents damage to the dock pilings.
Ice forms on the lines that Gurney and Grapes pull to check that the Ice Eaters are working.
It takes about an hour to check that all of the Ice Eaters are working properly and moving the ice.
While Grapes was wearing half a dozen shirts, Gurney was wearing long johns, multiple pairs of socks, and coveralls. "I walked a mile to work this morning," said Gurney.
The Ice Eaters were doing their job - the ice was broken up around where they are placed. The dock where Grapes and Gurney had to walk to check them, was slick with ice.
"My dad always said there's a little mud and rocks with every job. How cold would it be with no global warming?," said Grapes.
Checking the Ice Eaters wasn't the only chore on Grapes' agenda last Wednesday.
He said that he saved some work to do indoors during the brutal cold.
"I try to schedule maintenance inside for when it's really cold. We're going to put a new lining in the bed of the truck. And now the heater at the maintenance shop broke. It worked perfectly yesterday," laughed Grapes.
He said despite the cold and the outdoor work, and broken heater, he is remaining optimistic. "The only good thing is maybe all this cold will kill all the bugs off," Grapes said.