As part of my occasional series about signs (first, second and third), I offer my most recent musings on the importance of signs in the time of Covid, wildfires, political chaos and whatever else the frigging Universe decides to throw at us . . .
I live in a small town outside of San Francisco. So small that you’ll miss the freeway exit if you blink. There are only three main roads. I happen to live on one of them.
My house is on a corner with a fire hydrant that was originally painted to represent Nicholas Herkimer, an American Revolutionary General, as part of a Bicentennial program in 1976. He sat proudly on my corner until the city decided to paint over him last year.
In addition to a formerly patriotic fire hydrant, my corner also has a large stop sign; you know, the kind that requires travelers by car to stop. After 30 years of observation, I’ve noted this requirement is taken as more of a suggestion and most of the time, completely disregarded. I used to call the local police department and offer my semi-circular driveway as a place to park. I felt confident my corner was a ticket quota payday. They’ve never taken me up on my offer, so I stopped calling.
Because I’m on a corner and because I have a semi-circular driveway, it is also a natural path for travelers by foot. Every day I sit by my front window and watch my neighbors cut through my property. I don’t mind. It’s nice to see dog walkers, kids on bikes, babies in strollers and even daily visits by the local deer. Now, with Covid, the foot traffic has increased…a lot. Again, I don’t mind. Exercise and mental health are more important than ever and if walking across my driveway helps, I’m happy to oblige.
Lately, I’ve come to think this might be an opportunity. Perhaps General Herkimer’s spirit is haunting me with his legacy of patriotism and free speech; perhaps it’s just the times we live in and I’m going a bit stir crazy. Whatever the case may be, I have a unique opportunity to exact a toll for walking across my property. I’m going to subject my neighbors to yard signs!
I’ve had this sign next to my porch for years. I moved it out to the front patch by the street. I bought a Ruth Bader Ginsburg sign and placed it next to the mailbox, right under the lamppost so it’s seen clearly, even at night. I ordered more signs and lined them up so anyone walking by, or actually stopping at the stop sign, would be forced to read them. I know you’re thinking, “She’s turning into THAT lady. The nutty one.” Growing up we had a lady in our neighborhood with a coffin in her front yard. She was nutty (but we called her “artistic”). That isn’t me, at least not yet.
Sandwich boards with customized sentiments abound.
And when signs aren’t available, chalk art has made a comeback. From encouraging messages of hope and kindness to political chalk wars, it is very clear people need a way to express themselves.
I’ve had some people voice their fear of putting up signs in this time of political division. I’m doubling down. I may not be able to join the protests in the streets but by God my signs can voice my support for issues I care about. Besides, putting up yard signs, especially during election season, is as American as … well, I’m not sure what American is any more, so let’s just say it’s a tradition that dates back to John Quincy Adams and has origins in Ancient Rome! I think General Herkimer would be pleased.
More ideas keep occurring to me which could be dangerous, or just crazy enough to keep me sane.
What’s in your yard?