Rites Of Spring

A friend of mine, who doesn’t like the cold, finds ways to make me think of Spring. That is a good idea. It perks me up!

For example, she reminds me that the days are getting longer. “Do you notice that it is getting light earlier?” she optimistically observes. Then, the next day, when I get up in the morning and head for Hogan’s Hut for the newspaper, I realize that it is almost light out. The days are getting longer. Though we still have all of February to go, we know that in March the vernal equinox will come again. And, after that, the days really start to lengthen and we might even see crocuses popping up through the snow!

Another good friend starts thinking about Spring by talking about tapping trees for maple syrup. He is usually late tapping his trees and getting buckets up, but there is nothing wrong with at least thinking and talking about making maple syrup. I can see myself now at the end of March sitting in his sugar house with steam coming off the boiling sap and staying warm by the heat from the fire. (There is nothing more exciting than watching sap boil, unless you are into watching paint dry.) Spring is coming!

Even the ice fishermen make me think of Spring. It has been a good winter for walleye fishing and there are a lot of shanties and tents out on the ice. Stout-hearted men and women trek out on the ice and seemingly enjoy the experience of catching fish when it is 10 degrees above zero and the wind is blowing. I look at them as I sit in my living room huddled around my cozy wood stove. Yet, deep down I know that the walleye season will be coming to an end on March 15,th and soon thereafter (if not before) the ice will be gone and the fishermen will be back in their boats…another sign of Spring!

Then there is that other “not-so-pleasant” sign of Spring… the road surface breaking up on Route 394 near Stow. The old concrete pavement from the days when the Chautauqua Lake bridge was built just can’t hold up anymore. Every year the cracks get bigger, the attempts at patching more numerous, then the water turns to ice and the potholes get deeper.

It has become a “rite of Spring” to practice dodging the chuck holes and hazards on Route 394 in Stow. I used to be able to miss some of them by hugging the shoulder or by trying to get my car wheels to span two slabs of concrete. But, lately I have found it nearly impossible to make the passage along the road without at least one tire finding a pothole and jarring me as the car bangs over it. A neighbor described the driving experience over this stretch as “trying to attempt a lunar landing.”

Last week, in a break between snow storms, state DOT crews were out putting cold patch into some of the holes. However, that is really a futile and very temporary fix. After the next cold snap, the holes will reappear.

It was promised that the road would be fixed last summer. No such luck. But, what would Spring be like without dodging potholes on Route 394? Maybe we will find out next year!

Rolland Kidder is a Stow resident.