The Shortcut

There’s this path I walk on a regular basis. To make it less slippery in the wintertime, they scatter little rocks around.

Then, one day in the spring they clean the rocks up, exposing the beautiful stone pathway beneath.

I sometimes bring a heavy case full of tools along this path and the rocks make it very difficult to roll the case along the ground and they have damaged the case’s wheels. So typically I carry the case, even though it means stopping every dozen steps or so.

Now that it’s spring and the snow melting, the rocks act as a dam to trap the meltwater, causing portions of the path to become flooded.

Someone who came along before me was kind enough drag their heel through the rocks in different directions, allowing the meltwater to mostly drain away.

I find it ironic that these rocks, which are scattered around to make it easier to walk this path in the wintertime actually make it more difficult in two different ways: by directly hindering the movement of things like my tool case and also by trapping water, which makes it difficult for everyone to walk this path.

I suppose that, when it is above freezing in the daytime but cold enough at night for the water to refreeze, this trapped meltwater might again on occasion become patches of flat slippery ice; thus making the rocks contribute to the very problem they are trying to alleviate.


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