("good luck with that," the roadside signs should flash)
And so the rains came. For days.
Monday was the scariest, because the roads hadn't yet been closed, but certainly should have been. These thickly settled Massachusetts towns rest along narrow 2 lane roads that meander past streams and brooks, reservoirs, and yes mill-driving rivers that on most days one just drives over without much thought other than worrying over the color of the duckweed or fooling yourself that one of these weekends you'll try renting a canoe.
Then comes a day when you are driving through it, with no alternative in sight -- 100 cars in both directions, as far as the eye can see.
I've been through a few of these by now -- some much worse than others, worse than this week's even. But not until this week did one make me think about quitting my job.
This is the map around which we center our lives of quiet desperation. The rings are 93, 95, and 495. The long east/west road at the center is the Mass Turnpike. Above that Rt 2. Or, as we like to say, Bleepin' Root Two. A necessary evil. Four lanes of state roads full of stop lights, Jersey barriers, a Stephen King-worthy State Pen, and the kind of rotary that makes the rest of the country throw up their hands. (It's a simple explanation, really: the road is 300 years old. And we were British at the time.)
Rt 2 got the ARRA money! And what an exciting summer it was with one road constantly down for paving, and tunnels being installed for migrating animals. The area I have shaded above contains the even smaller back roads that daily commuters use to avoid as much of Rt 2 as they possibly can. When it all works, the traffic moves steadily. Not very quickly, and with the occasional school bus stop. But it moves.
And so the rains came. And so the waters rose, in the Assabet, the Sudbury, the Nashua, the Concord. Behold the sinkholes, potholes, guardrails with nothing to guard, train tracks that can not support trains, lost shoulders, pastures, ponds....oh...my. You can see how they powered the Industrial Revolution.
(Nice Mill footage at 4 and 5 minutes)
With the roads awash in that yellow-shaded area of the map, all traffic that usually fans out along those wooded river roads was now on Rt 2. All morning. Every morning.
7am-9am; 5pm-7pm. Standing... Woodstock...Great James River Raft Race traffic.
I can think a lot of things with time like that on my hands. Mostly it was "this is not worth it." And I thought the 90 minute standing bus ride on the 111 to Chelsea (which one Good Friday famously crashed through a telephone pole and into a building, but that is not the story I am telling) I thought that commute was worth it. So I am not just being a big baby. I am just assessing the ROI.
Now it is Friday night. I see that roads will still be facacta through the weekend. Then, presumably, we are back to normal. Until I get to complain about my commute on Patriot's Day.