Friday, May 12, 2006

Good Neighbors Make Good Fences

We are collecting estimates on having the back yard fenced in. I'd intended to put off this expense until after I reroofed the house because fencing in a yard seems like a luxury expense on the surface. But recently I have come to see that it's just not so.

I've always liked the proverb, "Good Fences Make Good Neighbors, Good Neighbors Make Good Fences." I learned from a Quaker friend of mine when I was about 12. She was in a play and the play was about neighbors and fences. I didn't get it at first, so she explained: Good fences keep your animals on each side of your property, preventing property damage. It creates a clear boundary--your life over there, my life over here. It supports civil behavior and encourages honest people to stay honest. Likewise, good neighbors then both lend a hand to maintaining that wall.

We have stone walls on three sides of our property and I was astonished to see the way that they do, indeed, shed stones over the winter. Having revisited Robert Frost's poem below, I am reminded why they do that. I shall have to pick the stones back up and return them to their places.

The fence I have come to see as a necessity instead of a luxury is there to keep the twins from their new favorite pasttime--rolling large balls from our property through the backyards four houses below us (we live on a hill, and the yards all slope down fairly steeply. It's enchanting for a guy who is only four, and the temptation is just too much . . .) This leads to two little four-year olds giving a wide hollar and running through the back yards to fetch the ball and the tromp, tromp, tromp, back up the hill--to do it again. There are some unfriendly dogs between here and the bottom of the hill. There are some non-child-friendly homes. It's a bad idea all around. We have a good yard, a large yard--we need to fence our critters in for their safety and the peace of mind of the neighbors.

Then there are the dogs. If I had a ten-dollar bill for everytime the dogs got out and ran the neighborhood since we moved in, I'd have my truck paid off. It drives me NUTS and since Emily is getting ready to go into heat again--it could very well drive me to drink. We put up more roadblocks and it happens far, far, far less often than it did this time last year, but it's still too often for my taste. Fencing in the backyard gives the dogs some place to go and run about and chase balls--without engaging in immoral behavior and driving the neighbors to drink.

It did occur to me that fencing in the backyard will solve one other problem I've been ignoring--the back porch's gate is hanging by one hinge. We'll be able to remove it altogether when the yard is fenced in. Having finally made the decision, we're collecting estimates and waiting to hear what the options are. I've given the fence people three options. Option A (maxium fence), Option B (slightly less), and option C (only half the yard).

So in honor of the fence we don't have yet:

Mending Wall
Robert Frost
SOMETHING there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing: 5
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made, 10
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbour know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go. 15
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
“Stay where you are until our backs are turned!”
We wear our fingers rough with handling them. 20
Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
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 25
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, “Good fences make good neighbours.”
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
“Why do they make good neighbours? Isn’t it 30
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 offence.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall, 35
That wants it down.” I could say “Elves” to him,
But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed. 40
He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father’s saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, “Good fences make good neighbours.”

In other news: today I scored. I acquired a wheelbarrow, a reel mower, and a set of electric hedge trimmers--all fastidiously kept--for $10 each. (The reel mower is only 4 years old, received 3 years of use, and is $100 new. It's fantastic and light. I already cut the front and back yards with it. The wheelbarrow hardly shows use.)

Tomorrow, it's on to writing a play with short o words, some math, and I hope, a trip to the grocery store.


Risha said...

Good luck on the fence project. We're getting an estimate on a new fence tomorrow. Took 3 weeks to get an appointment for an estimate.

We rather thought it a good idea to have a stronger fence, since our bullmastiff didn't take kindly to the continuous yapping of the Australian Shepherds next door... and somehow got his head through our old fence... and on to the neck of one of them. No harm, but definitely a foul called.

I'm selling blood and children to afford this. At least out here in the wilds of Washington, fences don't come cheap. But they're cheaper than lawsuits caused by our dog eating someone's kid.

mother of All said...

love that poem.

I hate it when I get those funny characters in my posts.

“ will get you left double quotes where it copied as odd characters. Stands for Left-Double-QUOte.

sub in rldquo for the right side.

‘ will get the single quotes for the possessive.

I always enjoy your cute blog.