Doctor Boom's Lightning Rods and the Amish Cobbler

I live in a thunderstormy area; my town loses power at least once every two weeks during high thunderstorm season, as fronts sweep over us from the west, clashing and clamoring with what's already here. It's little surprise, then, that so many nearby houses and barns have lighning rods, ornate copper and glass constructions spiking out along rooflines, grounding by means of thick, ridged copper cable. I have two lightning rods on my house alone, both with lavender glass spheres and arrows pointed skyward, both on the roof over my dining room and kitchen. One of them got knocked over by the impertinent holly trees outside my kitchen door earlier this fall. I don't know whether that disabled it; one would think the trees would have taken the hit, since they're taller than the lightning rod, had a stroke of doom come my way before the rod was replaced.

Today I drove three towns east to Danville, where an Amish man named Ray Yoder runs a small country shoe shop and cobbler operation out of a low building across the driveway from his house. Someone else had kindly taken a pair of my boots out to Danville so that they could be reheeled, and I ventured out during a break in our snow to pick them up. On the way, I saw a barn with four lightning rods, on the north side of the state highway I had to take; immediately, on my right (the south side), I saw a small, homemade billboard for Doctor Boom's Lightning Rods. Perhaps I should trade in Dr. S and become Dr. Boom.

Once I got to Danville, I was thrilled to find not only a Tough Street but also a Rambo Street. Alas that they didn't intersect; it would be badass to be able to give directions to a house on the corner of Tough and Rambo.

I had been warned that the sign for this man's shop would be hard to read. I thought this warning meant that the sign would be small, or hidden; instead, it was right there in plain view, but with most of its text simply obliterated. Because we have some slippery snow and ice on our roads, particularly the back roads, I didn't hit the brakes so that I could make the driveway. But as soon as I passed on by and began to descend a huge mid-Ohio hill into a starkly lovely, low-winter-lit valley of hayricks and the snowbound remains of cornstalks, beyond which I could see the road curving sharply off to another set of hills, I realized that it was going to be awhile before I could turn around. It was nice to get some time to look around at where I live, though I'm not going to romanticize it. At this time of year--the fallow months, the freeze--the landscape speaks the sternly rigorous rhythms of a farming life, the repetition of cycles and lines and the unrelenting dependence on immense, impersonal forces. I hit a couple of long vistas of rural winter before I inched into an icy driveway somewhere out of the way and turned back around. In the end, getting the boots turned out to entail a speedy, almost silent interaction with a young Amish girl who couldn't have been more than twelve. She said, "He told me you might be here to pick them up."

I listened to Seu Jorge the whole way there and back, his hot soundscapes an incongruous pairing with the winter golds and pale-blues around me. The wind picked up just before I got home, and the sharp-ridged dunes it cut in the snow along the highway reminded me of the sand dunes out west that I've seen pictures of. My high school ran a multi-week trip out west for students interested in doing biology fieldwork. I'm stricken now by the memory of having always been too afraid to apply: the trip involved hiking the tops of those dunes and of some mountain in the Rockies, and I feared I would slip and be lost--either because I couldn't take my eyes off the path, or because I couldn't stop staring at starkness.

A postscript: a new friend suggested that I take a look at Player Appreciate, which I suspect many of you will, um, appreciate. I pimpafied my name repeatedly until I got one that involved "Macktastic."

source for today's image: a purveyor of Fancy Lightning Rods.