It seems that spring is finally afoot! And while no one could be happier than me about the warming temperatures, what’s underfoot is a tad depressing.
Maybe it’s willful ignorance, or the glimpse of spring I had while in Atlanta a few weeks ago, but I’ve utterly forgotten how ugly the transition from winter to spring can be. The once-pristine snow is pockmarked with icy gaps and glazed with mud; sidewalks are covered in grit and the streets… oh the streets!
It’s been a long, tough winter for everyone, and especially for our roadways. Extreme cold puts extra stress on asphalt, according to a National Post article on Toronto’s roads, and the multitude of snow we’ve received has seeped into the resulting cracks, making them that much worse.
While the physical jarring of a pothole is one thing, the adverse affects all those bumps can have on your vehicle is another, silently affecting steering, suspension and alignment systems, says the Car Care Council (which is affiliated with the Automotive Industries Association of Canada). It’s no coincidence, then, that the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) launches its annual provincial Worse Roads competition when potholes pop up like Easter Eggs.
While economies of scale do come into play — if you’ve ever had the displeasure of driving on Toronto’s Dufferin Street, you know it’s worthy of its top placement — smaller towns can share in the dishonours as well. Last year, Craft Creek Road in Timmins cracked the top five, and, closer to home, Wharncliffe Road South in London took the eighth position.
While public notoriety is one thing, actual repairs and progress are another. St. Marys’ hotly debated (by councilors, at least) budget has finally passed, and work is due for Wellington Street from Jones to Park and Carrall Street in the West Ward. But for the sake of civic-mindedness, I’d like to compile a list of St. Marys’ own worst roads to pass on to the Public Works Department so they can get their shovels out and start the infill (drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org).
I’m personally partial to the potholes on Jones Street that are just steps from my driveway; there’s a handful scattered across the street’s width that make getting the mail a real puddle jump. I know from my basement’s traditional springtime floods that the Jones Street hill is great for gravitational draining, and it certainly doesn’t help that cars stopped waiting for the traffic on Wellington to clear are usually stuck there for quite a while, stressing out the asphalt.
But these puddles don’t compare to the calamity that is Elgin Street between Church and Peel. I’m not sure what the congregations of St. James Anglican and St. Marys United have wrought, but that particular stretch of street is pitted far beyond safe passage; there’s no way to avoid the bone-and-chassis-rattling. I’m not the only one who’s noticed, apparently, for Elgin Street — and Emily Street, which admittedly isn’t often in my daily itinerary — have both been nominated in the CAA contest.
The purpose of the Worse Roads competitions is to draw government attention to the need to maintain good road systems, especially in areas where there is no overlap with public transportation. The competition has its benefits; since its inception in 2003, 90 per cent of the roads nominated have been repaired or are scheduled to be so.
So if you have a pothole-related gripe, please let me — or the town — know. In the meantime, tread gently, and check your tire treads for uneven wear, low pressure or bulges or blisters in the sidewalls; they’re signs your vehicle may have succumbed to the power of a pothole.
Remarkably similar in appearance to the grit that’s covering our streets right now, chia seeds are one of those superfoods making the headlines for their many benefits; they’re high in calcium, manganese, and phosphorus, and a great source of healthy omega-3 fats and fibre. While they can be sprinkled on practically any food, the seeds also have the entertaining property of expanding in liquids to form a tapioca-like pudding.
This basic recipe is infinitely adoptable; try almond or soy milk, or add a dash of honey or maple syrup for sweetness, and cinnamon for spice.
2/3 cup chia seeds
2 cups milk of choice
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 tbsp. dried fruit
2 tbsp. unsweetened coconut flakes
Put chia seeds, milk and vanilla in a large container with a lid. Tighten the lid and shake well to thoroughly combine. Refrigerate overnight. When ready to serve, stir well. Spoon into bowls and top with fruit and coconut. Serves six.