What sort of infinite wisdom led our city’s street department to believe early December is a good time for road work? Clearly not much. No wonder then that on December 10, workers began tearing up the alley that runs beside our home in Topeka and serves as the access for our garage.
What a testimony to the belief in global warming. Last winter’s consistently warm and almost snowless winter must have addled their minds. No sooner had the old concrete been dug up and shipped off, then rain fell. Not enough moisture to make a dent in our midwest drought conditions, but more than enough to shut down progress to repave the alley.
One section of pavement was left from a repair to a major water pipe some years ago. That became a dam right front of the entrance to our garage. Drainage piled up against the artificial levy. As we wound our way from our house up to the passage across the alley and then down the other side to our cars, we were able to keep track of the constant freezing and thawing. It did make for some beautiful images.
As the weather warmed, workers magically appeared and made bits of progress. The north and south entries to the alley are now paved, but the key center strip could only have a portion of its concrete laid. City inspectors deemed the rest of the ground too soft to lay anymore pavement.
We were so hoping for the work to be completed PDQ. Sadly, there was no “quick.” Nothing about this has been “pretty.” We have said “darn” quite often as the work drags. Then factor in winter storm “Q.” If the ground was soft before, it will be a gooey bog long after the snow melt. By then, spring rains are sure to come.
Laura and I speculated on the completion date as we shook our heads over the December project start. Long ago we agreed on Easter Sunday, March 31. Even though that is a Sunday, we chose the date more as a joke over our church’s bulletin updates on the work. Early pronouncements were for completion by mid-January. The date soon became late January, then sometime in February. Finally they gave up and settled on completion “sometime in the spring.” Meanwhile, we gave up using our garage for Lent. Hopefully, as we celebrate our risen Savior, we will arise on that glorious morning to find our Subaru tucked back into the garage along with our bikes and kayaks.
That is a nice dream, but with every turn of the weather, the date will get pushed further into the spring. Other key dates will be daughter Julie’s and my birthday on April 10 and our grandson’s first birthday on May 1. If you want to get in on the pool, let me know your guess.
Of course, we also often question why the alley needed to be repaved in the first place? Alleys were initially constructed as an entry way to garages and for trash trucks. Before electrical, telephone and cable companies buried their lines, alleys allowed room for overhead lines to be strung in a web from pole to pole.
Ours has become a thoroughfare. There is a Catholic school at the far end of the alley. During the school year, parents anxious to drop off or pick up their children make the turn into the alley and put their pedal to the metal as though they were burning rubber at the city’s Heartland Park drag strip.
Last spring, on the day of the school’s carnival, one driver began his blast down the alley with me yelling for him to slow down as I walked out of the garage pushing our lawnmower. To my amazement, the driver stopped. Lumbering out of his car, he swore he was only going five-miles per hour. When I laughed at that absurdity, he let it be known he once “worked construction” and “could drop” me “in a second.” Realizing his belly stuck out further than his reach, I laughed over that impossibility and told him to get back in his car and drive on. Even Laura laughed.
With the city’s biggest high school just a block and a half away, we have chased off our share of dope smokers. Come spring, our alley is a picnic area for students. We don’t mind it other than the fact they never pick up their trash. Of course, we had one elderly woman who “dumpster dived” through everyone’s trash. When we confronted her, she waved her cane at us and cussed us out with a ferocity that would shame a sailor. Need to get rid of anything, we only have to set it in the alley near our trash can. Whatever is left is sure to be gone by the next morning.
All this traffic left the south end of our alley by the school tattered and filled with massive pot holes. Meanwhile our end of the alley was more than serviceable. That is until a city street surveyor told us we had concrete dating back to 1910. It had to be removed. Why?
We will keep asking that question for some time. Yes indeed, truly infinite wisdom.