Every year around here this season is known as "Break up"

Every year around here this season is known as "Break-up"

Break-up.  It happens every year in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, come March.  The hard frost in the ground begins to melt and heaves upward.  The log trucks and heavy equipment operators are banned from running on most roads.  Their tonnage damages our fragile roads even more so they go home and turn off their trucks until restrictions lift later in the spring.

Signs like the one above announce “Break-up”.  You can also tell by the mud on our side roads.  Break-up roughly coincides with “Mud Season” in these parts.  When the snow melts quickly, or the spring rains pour on the snow pack, or the temperature climbs to the 40’s or 50’s or 60’s, the muddy break-up can prove extreme. 

This year it’s been a slow melt.  Some of us are already complaining about the lack of rain, which repeatedly drizzles or pours south of here.  Mud season is…almost…negligible.  Break-up is a mild season in 2009, at least in my observation.  Log truck drivers might think otherwise.

The roads don't particular like break-up

The roads don't particular like break-up

My friend Lyn and I walked about three miles today on the roads.  We walked down Marksman and Bayshore, up Whirl-in-Gig, up Skanee Road and back down Marksman.  Did the big loop.  We were so busy yakking and catching up on the lives of our five combined kids that we hardly noticed the scenery.  We had months of catching-up to do.  It’s so fun to walk a long stint with a walking partner.  The time goes by so quickly, especially if you’re chatting.  Our thighs or legs may ache, but you don’t notice.  You don’t even notice if a road is breaking up unless you fall in a pot-hole.  Which we didn’t.

A tree comes through the road, pushed up by the frost

A tree comes through the road, pushed up by the frost

Our road is particularly challenged.  Not only during break-up, but during most of the year.  It needs another surface of blacktop, but the county can’t afford it.  So it’s slowly crumbling back to its original state unless the economy straightens around.  We drive very very carefully around the potholes.  Teenagers better not gun by too fast in the middle of the night!  They’ll fly up in the sky and land befuddled in the deeper trenches.

Crack up on the highway

Crack up on the highway

The more established highways get repaired with patches.  Workers appear armed with hot tar and fill up the holes and cracks as the summer approaches.  We’ll drive faster then.  We won’t fly up in the air when we’ve hit a certain crest in the road and wonder if the car will land with all four tires.  Actually, in the past couple of weeks things are already calming down.  The frost seems slowly melting out out of the ground.  The roads settle and sigh and return to smoother stretches.

I guess we should be grateful.  Think of the days before roads.  Think when so many of our back-roads turned to pure mud, almost non-navigable for weeks on end.  I’m not complaining.  No, not at all.  Just glad that “Mud Season” or “Break-up” is almost over for this year…

Mud tracks.  Be sure to take off your boots before you come inside, please.

Mud tracks. Be sure to take off your boots before you come inside, please.

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