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Woodworking: Offensive Slab Of East Walnut not susceptible to quick, garish fix

Just when one thinks he's got it made, something is bound to happen to throw him right back into the "Slough of Despond," to quote John Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress."

Well, not actually, a slough. More accurately a snowdrift.

Readers may recall that about a month ago, River Falls was treated to a whirlwind of cosmic dandruff that left roads blocked with snow and slush and all manner of hazardous waste.

We're used to such storms here in the "North Country," but I've got a bigger problem than most.

I do not refer to the banks of snow left by plows that leave my driveway "clear" or the countless backaches the snow causes our intrepid snow shovelers, Don and Virginia Larson.

I refer instead to a safety measure installed by the city to aid pedestrians in maneuvering our sidewalk fronting Walnut Street.

Readers may recall that I have, from time to time, complained about the state of that sidewalk and the hazards its irregularities may cause the folks who walk by, senior citizens with canes during the day, drunken students at night, just people who tend to drag their feet.

Until recently, the city has dragged its feet and I had just about given up when, suddenly, the supervisor of sidewalks answered my call and inspected the sidewalk.

He blessedly admitted that it was in sad shape, with very tripable slabs that should have something done about them.

Unfortunately, he said, there's no money for that, I suppose because the city has spent a good deal to build the (TajMa) City Hall and to install its pretty stained glass window.

To build the roundabouts on Cascade and those cute inlaid brick pedestrian walks, which I'm certain students will abide by.

Also there's the mix-up with the financing of our fine new downtown hotel, something about a former city administrator failing to sign off on a loan, which they wouldn't have to pay had he remembered to.

Or something like that.

Anyway, the supervisor of sidewalks said he would do what he could.

I thought there indeed is a Santa Claus.

My wife and left for Italy and when we returned we found that the city had paid us a visit and fixed up our sidewalk.

Had they found the money to do it?

Well, not actually, they just sent some guys over when we were gone and they ground down the offending edges of most of the slabs to form less radical inclines for the seniors and the stumblers and the kids coming home from downtown's Dens of Iniquity.

Most of the slabs, but not all.

Apparently, the most offensive slab was so deep, if they ground it down there'd be no slab at all. So they did the next best thing:

They painted the edge of the slab a fluorescent orange, as a warning to passersby. Sort of a "All Ye Who Enter Here, Beware the Orange Slab!"

At any rate, we were happy with this civic improvement and were especially fond of the color selected to paint the slab as it is part of my high school's colors (Go, Norsemen! Go, Orange and Black!).

But then came the snows, worse than the rains of Ranchipur, after which came Don Olson and Virginia, those intrepid removers of the icy white stuff.

Don and Virginia scraped and pitched, pitched and scraped.

And when the sidewalk was as clean as it could possibly be, we glanced at that confounded slab near the Walnut tree.

It was no longer orange.

It was white, white as the driven snow.

In fact it was the driven snow.

So now we're back to where we started, at least until the spring thaw, when a host of arthritic knees will once again be happy for the opportunity to gambol along Walnut without fear.

Until that time, I'm hoping the city will come up with a flasher planted in a drift alongside the offending slab, one of those outfits with a blinking bulb mounted on a tripod, painted white and orange, of course.

Or maybe they could build a roundabout that encircles the existing sidewalk.

Dave would like to hear from you. Phone him at 715-426-9554.