Pothole aren’t always the pits

A version of this appeared in The Sault Star in March. Catching up.

The other day I swerved to avoid a pothole near Farmer Bob’s on (appropriately named) Landslide Road.

Turns out it was just a decoy pothole. 

You know. Those threatening-looking potholes that are set out to lure unsuspecting motorists into even greater pothole peril.

Sure enough, my swerving smacked me right into one mother of a pothole, one big enough to hide a six-year-old child. 

Fortunately, all of the six-year-olds were in school spreading COVID-19 to each other and not washing their hands afterward. 

(In my childhood we just turned a tap on and off and then lied to our mothers. I suspect things haven’t changed much.)

Fortunately as well, I drive a pickup truck these days. If a pickup truck can bounce around on a bush road in a television commercial and come out glistening, potholes should be no problem, right?

Just put it in four-wheel-low and climb out of it. 

Car drivers, on the other hand, curse this time of year. 

One guy said in our hockey dressing room (so I know it must be true) that at his workplace a small car sustained two flat tires, front and rear, in a single pothole.

Joggers complain all of the potholes are turning them into steeplechase runners.

Bicyclists have mixed feelings. 

My days of commuting to work by bicycle were ended when I was forced off the road and into a pothole that crunched my front tire into an oval shape.

But I imagine people who find it exciting to ride bicycles over rough trails in the bush might even salivate over an obstacle course of gnarly springtime potholes.

On the whole, there’s a lot of grumbling about potholes at this time of year.

But shouldn’t we be celebrating them?

Aren’t potholes a sign of spring?

(OK, maybe in Sault Ste. Marie they’re omni-seasonal. But they’re most prolific in the spring.)

Other signs of spring aren’t too pleasant either.

The smell of a winter’s worth of dog poop exposed by melting snow.

Floods. Who looks forward to floods?

Robins. One of the most bird-brained of birds, with a song that makes rap seem melodic, especially when it wakes you at 4:30 a.m.

Dandelions? OK in a salad or a wine bottle, but not all over your lawn, right?

City works crews can’t do much about potholes. The warranty on cold patch expires in a matter of seconds. Hot patch repairs last until the city works truck disappears from view.

Might as well have some creative fun with them.

Works crews could erect signs, after completing their repairs, saying Slow Down or We Put the Potholes Back.

Or forget about repairs and just erect humourous notices to alert motorists. No Bungee Jumping in Potholes. No Boat Launching in Potholes. No Fishing in Potholes.

In some cities they put one of those cat-in-a-hat hat pylons in the centre of larger potholes.

The Sault could have a scuba diver figure emerging from its potholes. Or Satan. Or a pair of boots upside down. Or perhaps the helmeted heads of World War One soldiers peering over the edges.

Plant some pot plants in potholes. Only enough for personal use, of course.

Close down a particularly acned block and hold a paintball tournament in which combatants could scurry from pothole to pothole in their quest to capture the flag, or whatever it is paintballers do.

Ultimately, it might be a good idea to introduce a few man-made potholes into some traditional spring events to make them even more springy.

The Daytona 500 auto race, for example.

A few potholes would restore Daytona to a test of driving ability instead of the contest between car designers and mechanics that it has become.

But for the rest of us riding the potholed roads, my advice is to slow down and smell the melting dog poop.

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