We've long had an incorrect adage in these parts about seasons: The only seasons we have in Rockford are winter and road construction. Not true. We actually have three of them if you include pothole season.

First off, what is a pothole, exactly? According to PotholeInfo (a real site, seriously):

Potholes are holes in the roadway that vary in size and shape. They are caused by the expansion and contraction of ground water after the water has entered into the ground under the pavement. When water freezes, it expands. Also known as "chuckholes," or "kettles."

And, why are they called potholes?

When we hit a particularly deep, jarring one, we may refer to them as %@!*ing potholes. Folklore has it that the famous road builders of the Roman Empire, more than 3,000 years ago, were hampered by potters who dug up chunks of clay from the smooth highways of that time. The clay became pots, and hence the name. But that doesn’t entirely make sense, since Roman roads were made of a combination of stones, lime, course sand and sometimes metal.

And chuckholes?

On America’s West Coast, the term “chuckhole” is often used. Reportedly, the word derives from the travels of writer E.L. Wilson, who rode a covered wagon from New Jersey to Ohio in 1836, saying that “the abundance of traveling…wears the road in to deep holes; these we call chuck-holes.”

Potholes, in case you've never had a bad experience with one, can be rather expensive, too. The average annual cost for vehicle repairs due to rough pavement for individual motorists is $377 – which varies by market. Repairs typically involve tires, shock absorbers, suspension systems, struts, rims, wheel alignment and catalytic converters.

The Rockford Public Works Department encourages you to let them know about any pothole situations you encounter. You can call them at at 779-348-7260, day or night.

If you think that Rockford is the pothole capital of North America, you might be surprised to find out that there are lots of places with a far greater pothole problem than we have. The roadways in and around Los Angeles are reported to be the worst in the nation, followed closely by San Francisco and New York City.

All things considered though, I'd much rather deal with a pothole, chuckhole or kettle than with a sinkhole. Those can get downright scary. And deadly: