Police and potholes

Some people think seeing a robin hopping around outside is the harbinger of spring. I have nothing against robins, but I submit the true harbingers of spring are these: police and potholes.

This time of year, I see those sneaky folks in their shiny blue cars lurking in the median, as I’m challenging the speed limit on my way to work. (After all, that number on the sign is just a suggestion, isn’t it?) In case you don’t see them, you’ll be glad that the person in front of you, who suddenly slowed down, did. So stop cursing him and waving your fist, and thank him from saving you from getting a ticket. Why do they come out in droves in the spring? Some would say it’s to catch all those drivers, who, at the first sign of spring, turn into free spirits and throw caution to the winds, while flying down the highway with the radio blaring “Fun, Fun, Fun” and the top down. Or maybe they are just after writers who over-use cliches.

Potholes are more common to cold weather areas, so those of you who don’t live where it’s cold are saying “What? Pot what? What is she talking about?” Potholes are gaping apertures of missing pavement, small caverns on the road of life, that occur when the cold weather starts to thaw. It has something to do with physics, freeze and thaw cycles, and moss growing on the north side of trees. Why we call them potholes, I have no idea: something about the hole being as deep as a pot, or some other folklore. If you want the scientific gibberish on potholes, click here, but suffice it to say, you know spring is around the corner when your front tire disappears in a hole the size of New Jersey.

(Thanks Google for the images!)

© Huffygirl 2012

Loose Chippings

Michigan license plate from 2008

Image via Wikipedia

It’s that fun time of year again – when road commissioners everywhere decide to allow ordinary citizens to participate in road repairs. Yes, paying taxes and license plate fees is just not enough – we really need to get our hands dirty and get in there to help, to appreciate the complexity of keeping our roads in good repair. No longer just bystanders, we’re allowed to experience the intricacies of road maintenance first hand. Great!

And so, we enter the season of loose chippings. Probably most of you know how this works. The road repair crews go around with a big tanker truck of tar, and a big truck of tiny loose stones, aka chippings, usually to rural and less-traveled roads, but in my area recently, I’ve even seen this done on main city streets. They spread the hot tar on the roads, then spread a layer of chippings on top. Then, here’s where ordinary citizens are asked to chip in. We drive our cars on this tarry, stony mess, and use our wheel power to drive the chippings into the tar, until they become a pavement of sorts. Sometimes this takes awhile if it’s a less traveled road. You never want to be the first person down the road right after the chippings are applied, and you definitely don’t want to be biking down said mess. The stones whip up into your wheel wells and the tar spatters onto the lower part of your chassis. Other cars throw the stones up onto your cars, making a generalized mess and sometimes breaking or chipping windshields. Yes, it’s an exciting time for everyone – the road commissioner gets to save money by buying tar and stones, instead of actual black top, and we citizens get to do our civic duty to keep our roads going. And thanks to the crummy economy, chances are we’ll get even more opportunities to do our part to keep the roads repaired. What’s not to like about this?