Yesterday I drove down my hobbled road, snow encrusted, and turned onto Route 9 for the morning commute to Brattleboro–and didn’t give it a second thought when the flow of traffic stopped, and became single lane, as if it was as natural an occurrence as the mindless speed.
I was surprised to find myself relieved rather than annoyed by the delay.
“They haven’t abandoned us,” I said to my empty car.
In this post-Irene world, road work had become the norm, and we’ve appreciated every moment of it; but then they were gone, leaving our roads were delightfully “passable,” and eerily unfinished.
Last week over a foot of snow arrived before the plow poles were anchored along the dirt roads or the guard rails finished on Route 9.
I don’t need to explain the significance of guard rails, but here’s the thing about plow poles–they show us where there is and isn’t a road. When everything is white, it’s hard to tell, particularly when what was once road, no longer is, because it was half-eaten away by water, and restored, but never fully so.
The lower half of my road is one of those. A few weeks back when they put in the temporary bridge at Neringa, someone dropped a lot of rubble on the sides of MacArthur so that the truck filled with dirt could make it to the site without toppling over. I bet the rubble is fun in a truck. Not so much in a Honda Civic.
When I can’t stomach the bumps, I take the back way to Brattleboro. It’s all dirt, and it’s slower, but it’s predictable, though the potholes are propagating and the ruts where one road meets another are deepening.
Though it’s been two months since Irene, I find myself having flashbacks on this particular day–hauntings from the night we drove home after the flood.
I can see the ghost of a car dangling into a crater near Robb Family Farm. I can see Ames Hill strewn with rocks. I can feel the fear that we might not make it.
So many roads were taken by Irene and so many still hobble. Some friends have only just had their roads repaired, while others have had repairs washed away by the rain. Stopping for a work crew, in the middle of the morning commute, is a comfort now instead of an annoyance; something I once took for granted; like the permanence of highways and country roads.
Kelly Salasin, November 2011