Mary’s Musings

Avoiding (or not) the heaves and holes

Posted:  Wednesday, February 28, 2018 - 8:30am

The potholes aren’t showing today, as we write this column; it’s snowing. However, the weatherman promises very little accumulation and a quick melt, so we’ll all be able to SEE the potholes again – that is, AFTER we hit them.Maine is famous for its potholes, and the state’s comedians, including “our own’’ Tim Sample, love to make references to them. We should probably take comfort in the realization that it’s not just a Midcoast problem. Nearly every road in the state boasts potholes in varying sizes and numbers.

We were online the other day reading a list of things drivers should do to properly maintain their vehicles. You know, change the oil, rotate the tires, perform needed maintenance, etc., etc., in a timely manner.  Oh, yes, and AVOID POTHOLES. Obviously, the well-educated person who developed the “what to do’’ list for vehicle owners didn’t live in Maine. It doesn’t matter how slow you go, how carefully you scan the road ahead, you’re bound to hit a pothole. You just have to hope it’s a little one, and you won’t need a step ladder to get back to level ground.

Almost as bad as potholes — sometimes worse — are frost heaves. Again, Maine is a leader, although other New England states share in the claim to fame. Hitting one of these, especially a big one, can quickly send you airborne.  Our most memorable one was on a return trip from our daughter’s gymnastics lesson in Auburn many years ago. We usually took the much shorter back way home by way of Sabattus, Richmond and Dresden. There were often frost heaves along that route in the spring.We were talking with our mother, who had made the trip with us, and didn’t pay much attention when our daughter said “bump,’’ letting us know  we’d just passed a warning sign. By the time she repeated herself, we hit it, and thought we were just taking off on the Portland Jetport runway. Needless to say, we did come back down, and the car continued on its way, although it certainly was no longer properly aligned.

Road crews do their best to temporarily fill any potholes they can, and make the frost heaves easier to maneuver, but it’s a never-ending problem this time of year.  It’s just another one of the minor inconveniences we’re all willing to endure here in Maine and sure beats some of the other weather-related problems we might face elsewhere.The best we can do is keep the speed down, stay alert, and make an appointment early to get our vehicles aligned.