This time of year there are two types of people in Waldo (and surrounding rural towns): those who live on dirt roads and those who don’t. Warm rainy days clear the paved roads and make travel less stressful; gone are the ice and slush. However, for those on dirt roads, life is inevitably more stressful. What we call mud season has expanded from just February or March to through April sometimes.

Older people on dirt roads worry about getting out if something were to happen to them. Parents worry about getting to work or the school bus getting through to pick up kids. Some days people don’t leave their houses because they’re worried about getting stuck in ruts deeper than the ground clearance of their vehicles.

The temperature swings we have had lately are familiar for early spring, and I do love a 60-degree day in February, but they are problematic for dirt roads, especially when paired with a rainy day. Like other changes we have seen to our weather in the past five to 10 years (12 inches of rain last July, for example), this is becoming the new normal.

As much as I love living on a quiet dirt road (we are lucky enough to live where the pavement begins, though, and therefore avoid the stress of spring mud), I can’t help but wonder if in the long run it is better for the town to pave these back roads. I don’t want cars going faster (another problem to discuss another week), but I think dirt roads may be a growing problem for residents and towns in the years to come.

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