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:
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,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor 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.
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.
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
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 offence.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
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.
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 neighbors.” – Robert Frost
My neighbors seem to agree.
Lauren and I live in a nice little neighborhood with sidewalks and common areas and a community pool. And like most neighborhoods with all those amenities, we have neighborhood dues. Every year, Lauren and I fork over in excess of $300 bucks just to live here and have them send me unpleasant letters everytime my weeds have gotten too tall.
But this year, the developer has finally built houses on almost every spare patch of land, so the neighborhood is finally able to take over the “association” (which has always sounded ominous to me). For Lauren and me, the first order of business was getting those dues lowered. But we soon realized that having any voice at all in our pleasant little community would require us to come out of our comfortable, lazy, little shells and actually take part in some of the stuff going on.
So we signed up for some committees.
The first one we signed up for was the Newsletter committee. The first meeting went well. One of the issues that the women (yes, I was the only man present, and Lauren and I were the only ones there under the age of 35 or 40) brought up were the “sewer cats.” These cats haunt the front of the neighborhood and live in the storm drains. I’m not sure what they live on, but they really irritate the people in the front of the neighborhood (where the really nice houses are). These cats are jet-black, and… oh yeah… they used to be ours.
Shortly after Lauren and I moved in, we adopted two black kittens from some friends. Even though they were both male, we named them “Merry” and “Pippin,” since the Lord of the Rings trilogy was really popular at the time. Of course, this also led to severe ridicule from our friends and family.
Merry was terrified of us from day one. “Oh, he’ll get used to us,” we used to say. We were wrong. Every time we came home, he would dive under the couch and stay there. Taking them to the vet was exhausting. We would have to stage 3 or 4 people all around the couch, one of us would jerk it into the air, and everyone else would dive onto the floor trying to grab him. It was really great.
But then Lauren got pregnant. By this time, we had decided that having indoor pets was something our fathers had avoided for a reason, so we uncerimoniously dumped the cats outside. We were fixing to get another little critter anyway – one who would be considerably cuter and take a LOT more time and money.
Eventually though, our furry little friends began taking longer and longer excursions throughout the neighborhood, until they finally decided to submit a change of address. Occasionally, we still see them darting in and out of storm drains at the front of the neighborhood. We got quite a chuckle to hear our neighbors complaining about them. 🙂
Anyway, the other committee we joined was the Landscaping committee. This was kind of funny too, since I avoid most yard work. I don’t mind cutting the grass when it needs it, but I despise spreading pinestraw, and I practically refuse to plant flowers.
But we joined up anyway. This meeting was pretty nice. We really enjoyed meeting our fellow committee members. In fact, there was another couple there who was just a few years older than us and actually have two young daughters too. We might try to get together with them soon.
The really enjoyable part of the meeting, however, concerned the nature trail that encirlces our neighborhood. Debbie, who was heading our meeting had heard several complaints about various issues with the trail, so she decided to walk it one day with her digital camera in tow. At the meeting, she treated us to these fascinating examples of dilapidation.
Two of the pictures were of my fence.
You know that saying “good enough for government work”? Well, in an effort to save money, I decided years ago to build our own privacy fence, instead of paying someone else to do it. My dad and a few friends helped out with it, and during the project, my dad shared a favorite saying of his: “good enough for my house…” (I really hope my mom doesn’t read this)
That saying became our mantra as we built the mockery of a fence that now surrounds my house. I recently heard that Alec Baldwin plans to release a book on divorce. I guess he figures that doing it the wrong way enables him to give others advice on the subject. I could write a similar book about fence-building.
I had bought 8-ft sections of premade fence from Lowe’s for the project. This proved to be a mistake for several reasons. In building materials, 8-ft sections of things are rarely 8 feet; they are usually about an inch or so shy of that figure. I wasn’t aware of this at the time. I decided to build my fence in stages – the first of which would be setting all the posts. I set them all 8 feet apart. In concrete.
So… I ended up having to splice sections of 2×4 onto the posts, just so the fence sections would reach. It was a real mess.
Also, these fence sections were poorly made. The boards were attached with headless nails. Have you ever wondered why nails have heads? It’s to keep whatever’s nailed down… nailed down. So, boards periodically fall off of my fence, leaving gaps that look like a redneck’s smile.
The poor woman next door has tried unsuccessfully to repair some of this herself, since I am too lazy. The rest of her fence is immaculate, having been built by Shelby Fence, so it’s a wonder that she hasn’t sent me a letter bomb.
Our meeting last week was the last goad I needed to get started. Lauren and I smiled benignly as we looked over the photos, neither of us claiming ownership, just as we had done over the “sewer cat” issue. So this past Saturday, I found myself “mending fences,” just like Robert Frost.