Madison Monday: Of small floods and Amish auctions

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Having watched this morning rather dramatic footage of the tsunami in Japan, I’m inclined to feel very thankful to call the Ohio the most destructive body of water within a 10 mile radius of my town. We did get a few feet past flood stage, and lost parts of Vaughn Drive, the street closest to the river, on Friday.

What’s amazing when the river floods is that you suddenly find yourself standing right next to it. You can walk down to the river from our river walk any time of the year, but when the river’s flooded, it’s as if the river has decided to come visit you, and that’s an altogether different proposition. It’s strange to look at the river seeping into places it normally just isn’t, like the lower yard behind the Lanier Mansion, which as of yesterday, had become a nice little lake in the spot where the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra usually plays in the summer.

As we walked along the river yesterday what I thought to myself was what the river wants, the river takes, and there’s not much you can do. And then I watched this footage of the tsunami in Japan, and such acts of nature seemed a lot less circumspect. We’ll lose a few benches, and that’s it, thankfully. But the message appears to be the same. You can build all the damns you want, the river is saying, but you can’t keep me from the places I want to go in the end. We are fragile creatures in the face of bodies of water.

Farther away from the river, my stepdaughter and I went to the Switzerland County Produce Auction this Saturday, hosted by the Amish population. This continues our journey through the world of stuff, where my stepdaughter was most taken by a very heavy length of chain. Besides the bunnies, the goat and the chickens, this was the most tempting item for her. The chain went for $17.50, my friend assures me a great value for a $70 chain.

As my stepdaughter sat and ate a large piece of barbecue chicken, we were also treated to a row of Amish children rather pointedly checking us out. At first, my stepdaughter was pretty intent on eating her chicken, but gradually she noticed about 6 pairs of eyes watching her every move with rapt fascination. She didn’t ask what that was all about, but I probably would have told her, they think we look pretty weird. And when you’re at an Amish auction, you do start to think about how weird you look. When you take away all the differences in how people dress, all you have left are their faces, and is that why somehow the faces of all the Amish folks looked more interesting?

We came away with no animals, though the possibility of a backyard chicken coop is under discussion, and the bunnies have not been ruled out altogether.

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