I have a relative that lives in Wilmette, Illinois. The side streets there are wonderfully paved with bricks. They are lumpy and bumpy and noisy to drive on, but they work. There used to be tons of brick streets, but for whatever reasons (lumpy, bumpy and noisy perhaps?) such as high maintenance costs and plowing brick streets in winter, we don’t drive on many brick streets anymore.
None that we can see anyway. But when road construction crews come around, it is interesting what can be revealed beneath the thin layers of asphalt on which we depend on for smooth travels.
Just this week the state started construction work on a section of Route 31 in my hometown of Batavia. The pavement sucker-ripper-grinder thingy stripped off the top layers of athletes leaving Rough Grooved Surface. If you ride a bike you know what that stuff is all about. Find a road with the asphalt chewed off and there’s some sweet riding, right there.
But I was surprised to see what appears to be a layer of perfectly smooth brick underneath State Highway 31. How quaint! How cute! How marvelously small town!
In fact, I’d love to see the City of Batavia demand that the asphalt all be stripped away and leave the bricks exposed. Our community has been engaging in all sorts of bricky experiments in the downtown on a streetscape campaign to make the place feel more Old Tyme and Homey.
Well, let’s go for it then Batavia! Imagine five whole blocks of brick streets from the north end of town all the way through to Main Street on the south! Then people will know they’re in Batavia. No more sterile State Highway Tarmac for us!
Seriously this brick looks so well-laid it would be smooth even to ride a bike on it. That’s saying something. Because I would not like to ride my road bike on the streets of Wilmette. No, Sir. Not with the ruts and nubs of that brick. Beautiful to behold. Bad to ride on unless you’re in a car.
My companion Sue noticed the brick exposure in Batavia too. Funny thing is, she was out doing a “brick” for her Ironman training when she noticed the bricks. After four hours on the bike, she had a one-hour training run to do. So she hit the bricks. Talk about cosmic brick convergence!
I also made plans this weekend to pick up bricks to pave over another section of my lawn. Through connections on Facebook, I scored a stack of 400 perfectly new bricks. Only I was surprised to find they have holes in them. They’re actually construction bricks, not for paving. But I’ll make it work with a little filler for those holes. Plus it doesn’t hurt to let water seep through to the earth. So I loaded these bricks into the back of my Subaru Outback and it handled the 1000 lb. load quite well.
But while we’re looking down at the streets, may I warn you about a pending danger that appears to be taking place. Tarsnakes have begun to emerge from their wintry hiding places! There’s one on my block that is in the process of escaping from its natural habitat in the groove of the street and is apparently planning an attack on a cyclist or runner sometime soon. It’s black, snakey body has pulled up from the crack and it is writing on the cement in hopes of tripping some poor cyclist, runner or pedestrian.
If that happens, it’s also known as hitting the bricks. It’s almost frightening how all this fits together when you really get down to it.