March 29, 2010

Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

This is not my yard, but I pulled the photo to illustrate the fact that we're getting new fences today on two sides. One side was replaced a few years ago. Don't make me think when. All my years are running together now. I used to be able to anchor events around the children's births, or where I was in school; now we use the sabbatical in Washington DC as a milestone, and even then we're always asking each other: "Was it before we went?" A shrug. Who knows. It's so bad now that when our water heater was replaced I got out a marker and wrote the date on it. . . just so I'd know. Our new windows have their manufacture date on the interior separating the dual-paned glass, and we got the new kitchen counters and stove then as well. Those guys are on to our forgetful minds.

Because my father was a fan of Robert Frost, I give you a fragment of his famous poem Mending Wall:

There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, 'Good fences make good neighbors'.
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
'Why do they make good neighbors? Isn't it
Where there are cows?
But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense.
Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That wants it down.'

Sometimes living here in Southern California I love a wall to make me feel like we have our own little fiefdom, tiny as it is. I had to walk around the block to the backside to enlist the approval of that neighbor (who asked me to please remind him when to send me the check; all I could think was, please, you're a grown man, give me a break and ask your own wife to do that for you)--and the next door neighbor below us. They both have pools so they have to have fences.

Our fence has been in bad repair for years. We had a lovely wedding reception in our backyard for our daughter and somehow, one of the fence posts had broken off and we didn't notice it in all the fixing up we did for that celebration. It's in all her pictures, this snaggle-tooth fence post.

Things like that, and the fact that I can't remember what year that was, keep me humble.






SOLSC Day 30. Click to return.

9 comments:

  1. I think, as we get older, broken fence posts don't jump out at us because we have put their imortance into the proper persepctive. I know longer am a slave to my home. I used to think everything should be just so (in case someone stopped by). Now it is the way it is and the someone that stops by won't care if they are my friend.

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  2. I never thought I'd get used to the idea of letting things be...but that comes with age. I can walk right by a wall that's crying to be repainted, and settle down instead to write a note to an old friend, continue a good read, or make a cup of tea and enjoy the quiet. Life is much better this way.

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  3. I had a talk with a friend about keeping up with our things... seems like having company is our best motivation to "tidy up." We have experiences to gain:)

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  4. I love that poem, and have often repeated that line "fences make good neighbors" when my neighbors are acting up. I don't know how I will ever readjust to living in the city!

    I can't remember when things happen either! There are too many years between the important landmarks.

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  5. Our yard could use a new fence as well! I hope the fencing goes well. I liked how you included a poem in your post.

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  6. I remember, in our neighborhood, the rule was "ugly side in," in order to keep the peace on both sides of the fence. but there was always a fallen tree branch landing on the wrong side to incite someone's ire! such suburban drama.

    though i'm young still, this line--"All my years are running together now."-- is something i've felt more and more lately!

    thanks for posting the poem. it's been awhile since i read that one!

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  7. Elizabeth,
    As we are winding down as a March Slicing community, I am touched as I read your Slice tonight. We just enjoyed a small, sweet Seder and that ritual feels like what you describe. Flooding memories...all running together as we continue to create new ones. Tuvia has fences around his yard and with the wind and rain, he almost had one damaged but no way- too strong.
    That fence is for keeping people out.
    Bonnie

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  8. Elizabeth,
    As we are winding down as a March Slicing community, I am touched as I read your Slice tonight. We just enjoyed a small, sweet Seder and that ritual feels like what you describe. Flooding memories...all running together as we continue to create new ones. Tuvia has fences around his yard and with the wind and rain, he almost had one damaged but no way- too strong.
    That fence is for keeping people out.
    Bonnie

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  9. I've always loved that Frost poem ("spring is the mischief in me" ... so excellent), and I love this slice. We have a fenced in yard here. My landlords (who are also my neighbors) installed it four months after I moved in, right before they got married in the back yard.

    I like my privacy, but I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about stockade fencing -- wouldn't it make the yard feel too closed in, wouldn't it be like telling the neighbors we didn't want to know them? Happily, neither of these things has proven true. The fences make the yard cozy, like a little bit of sanctuary.

    As for remembering years ... sigh. In the last two weeks, I've been asked several times how long I've been at my job. And I've had to work each time to figure it out!

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