They began sprouting just as the trees dropped their buds. Lawn signs and lilacs. A uniquely American tradition. One of the questions most asked is "Isn't there an ordinance limiting when lawn signs can go in before an election?" The answer in our town is "no." If the metal poles can pierce the ground, the sign may go up. Maybe that will change in the future. Other communities have adopted stricter rules.
In the last race the opponent began planting signs in February in a slow and steady march across town. That was ten months before the November election. By midsummer the pale signs had adopted a moldy tint. Still, the calls for signs escalated. On July 4th Bill and the kids installed hundreds. Never having had a my name on a sign anywhere but the office parking place, we drove around town afterwards in awe.
Funny thing about political lawn signs, many disappear like magic. Perhaps it's prankster kids who don't realize the out of pocket cost to the candidate--which can be in the thousands.
This year it's been a bit more gruesome as angry types rip up signs leaving their mangled carcasses replanted in the lawn for the family to see as they head out early in the morning. One close friend got a chest thumping visit from an opponent and an overseas "dignitary" on Father's Day over his. Politics ain't for sissies. At least there were no horse heads. Yet.
The green side of me nods to the creative folk at Wired Art Works who collect metal frames after each election turning lawn sign frames into fun yard art that function long after the polls close. Wired Art can be purchased on Friday mornings at the Dearborn Farmers Market.
My mother, always a "saver," kept a sign (or ten) turned inside out to mark her garage sales.
Candidates may not be able to agree on much, but one thing is unanimous--it's an honor and a privilege when someone agrees to show support in a visual and open manner, right on their lawn. It's difficult to pull the stakes in and out each time the grass requires mowing--in this drought even more of a challenge.
There was a moment on election day in 2008 while standing outside the Long School Precinct when the magnitude of it all came into focus. I'd walked to the car for a moment. Stopping to turn and look back the length of the street I took in the rows of signs, the flags cracking in the wind and friends standing in the chill handing out poll cards. Regardless of the outcome, it was one moment of a lifetime.
I'll cherish it forever.