I usually spend my nine minute commute to and from Waterville Valley singing along to my favorite classic vinyl songs from the 70s. Last Thursday, however, the radio was turned off and rather than succumb to highway hypnosis, I thought about several things that perplex me.
1) What do all the yellow arrows painted on Rt. 49 signify? Not on the side of the road, but ON THE PAVEMENT pointing towards the sides of the road. In 35 years of driving in and out of Waterville Valley, I’d never noticed them before. But, last Thursday I came upon a State of NH DOT truck parked smack dab in the middle of the east bound lane (on a corner, mind you) with lights flashing and a guy nonchalantly kneeling on the pavement holding a paint can and brush and painting a little yellow arrow! After I passed the guy and truck, I noticed that there are DOZENS of little yellow arrows pointing to the side of the road. This was weird on several levels. Firstly, if it was any other state but New Hampshire, there would have been at least several state DOT vehicles forming a protective barrier, and flashing arrows and caution signs and miles of barricades and flag men and police. Secondly, the guy appeared to be hand painting the arrows! Don’t they have stencils for that purpose?! Thirdly, wouldn’t stakes or posts provide a more noticeable indicator of whatever it is DOT guys are trying to point out?!
2) I’ve been passing a couple of ASPLUNDH tree service trucks on Rt. 49 and noticed they have clear cut the power line right of way. It’s cleared right down to dirt and looks like a highway. I know why they do it – to keep trees and branches from falling on lines and taking out power, and to keep the ROW accessible for utility crews. Apparently utilities have gotten more aggressive with trimming this year due to damaging storms and older trees. But, what it made me think about is the Northern Pass. My opposition to the above ground Northern Pass has been focused on the height and breadth of the towers. I hadn’t even thought about the scorched earth appearance of the swath of land under the towers. So very, very ugly.
3) I was sitting on my deck last weekend enjoying peace and quiet, when all of a sudden it sounded like a family of bears was crashing through the oak tree next to the deck. Tips of leafy branches began raining from the tree. I may be hearing impaired, but the cacophony of snapping/falling branches was enough to make me jump from my chair to see what was happening. I found a mess of short leafy twigs on the ground – it looked like a crop circle as the branches littered the ground around the trunk of the tree. I yelled for my husband to come look. All he said was, “Squirrels.” Squirrels did this? In a matter of minutes? Sure enough, the twigs have a slanted cut end or a sheared-looking end, which are indicative that squirrels are the culprits. Apparently, the little buggers bite the stems to use the leafy twigs to make their nests for winter. They also may be smart enough to cut off the acorn-laden branches so they can bury or nibble the nuts in a more comfortable location than the wobbly, twiggy end of a branch. I’ve been told that our squirrels won’t kill the tree, but they’ve certainly left it slightly less bushy with their “pruning.” Thank you squirrels for adding to my yard cleanup chores.