Today, March 21, the first day of spring, dawned clear and cold. Frozen maple sap in my containers dashes my hopes for some fresh, maple syrup. But the worst is the road. Oh, that awful road that I live on.
In past years, this rural road had little traffic. Perhaps a half-dozen or so vehicles would pass by during the course of a day, sometimes nowhere near that many. That’s because development had not yet reared its ugly head. Now, with houses springing up like mushrooms on a September morning, the amount of road use has greatly increased. But the number of hours spent on road maintenance has remained
This has changed the yearly ritual of driving down a muddy, rutted road, to driving down a road filled with potholes. In this case, the area of potholes is far greater than the area of level road. I prefer ruts...at least you could get a running start and kind of “swish” through them. Once in a while you would slue from side-to-side, but that was kind of fun.
Now, with the road little more than a greatly-magnified corncob, it is impossible to drive fast enough for the speedometer to register. At the slow crawl required for the vehicle to remain intact, it looks like you are going zero miles per hour.
Part of the problem is that many parts of the road were once corduroyed. That is, logs were placed side-by-side. These would sort of fl oat on the soft ground through which the road led. Then, at one point, the logs were covered with gravel, to kind of smooth things out. That was more than fifty years ago, but still, the outline of the corduroy becomes apparent on occasion, such as in early spring. Sometimes a loose log or a portion of a log will work its way to the surface, causing terrible discomfort
to all concerned. The old-time plague of mud and ruts quickly dissipated when things dried out. But the new enemy of hundreds of thousands of sharp-edged potholes just worsens, defeated only when the road grader finally arrives.
So now, it takes a major need to inspire me to leave the house. If I can possibly do without something, I will do without it. I’m situated so that either way I turn upon leaving my driveway, I am compelled to negotiate a virtual minefield of deep potholes. I am marooned on my own property, an unwilling hostage of an overused, poorly-maintained road.
While spring hasn’t officially arrived, it has sent its emissaries to cheer us.
Chickadees have changed their call to a raspy, “fee-bee,” something they do every spring just ahead of mating season.
A flock of Canada geese flew over last week, another indicator of coming warmer weather.
Lastly, large flocks of robins are in evidence all over, including in my yard and on my crabapple tree. There, these members of the thrush family pick the tiny, red crabapples that have made it through the winter. And instead of being “resident” robins, the kind that spend winters on the coast, these are present in sufficient numbers to tell me that they are true migrants, the red-red robins of spring.
So there we have it. We’ll certainly see more cold weather and even some snow, but it means nothing. Spring stands at our doorstep and there’s no turning back.
An avid writer and naturalist, Tom writes four regular columns and a multitude of features. He wrote a long running award winning column "Waldo County Outdoors" and a garden column for Courier Publications