decorating / homefront · it's all about me

The year of the fecking fence

Being fifty-something, I’ve lived within many different fences, both physical and metaphoric.

The fences on my mind just now are the physical ones.

The year 2012 is panning out to be our “Year of the Fence”.

Did someone declare 2012 “International Year of the Fecking Fence” … and forget to warn me?

We have just replaced the fence at an investment property we own (well, we AND the bank own).

Quite possibly the world’s most boring fence.

There are four units on the lot and it’s taken several months of organising and collaborating and negotiating to make this fence happen. We engaged a professional property manager part way through the process to help deal with everyone’s needs and deal with the fencer and deal with the council and particularly to deal with the next-door neighbours.

Why is a fence so problematic? Because it’s a shared structure? Because it marks our property rights? Because it’s tied to our sense of privacy and ownership?

My Boy (an Economics major) says it’s all to do with property rights. He says that EVERYTHING has to do with property rights … domesticating dogs, taxing carbon and erecting fences.

What I know is that I wouldn’t be a fencer for quids. And, if by some quirk of happenstance I were, I’d insist on payment up front, before I turned a sod or flicked on the power saw.

A fencer always ends up in between, treading the no-man’s land between what one property owner wants, and what another (or in this case, another four) property owner wants.

Oh, if only fence fixing was as simple as Robert Frost described it in his Mending Wall poem (a favourite of mine)

Mending Wall

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 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.
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 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
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 neighbours.”

By Robert Frost

Not much consolation when the fence at home looks like this:

I believe two could pass abreast through those gaps. Perhaps they are the work of urban hunters. Or maybe just suburban wear and tear. One more good wind and it will be down.

We have no cows, or apples or pines to keep confined.

I have let my neighbour know beyond the hill, but spring mending time has come (again) and there’s not much fence mending action.

Over the wall, beyond the hill, there’s a giant renovation going on and a landscaping project in the wind, so we have agreed to wait. Until the time is right.

Because good fences make good neighbours.

Especially important for the neighbours you actually live beside.

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7 thoughts on “The year of the fecking fence

  1. Aah Sheryl in my new position I am learning about property rights ..I am an assistant for a company that managers Body Corp properties… Common property etc etc etc.. Some of the issues so trivial, but nonetheless IMPORTANT to them (it seems) It’s week 3 into this job and so much to learn. Liked your post, good luck with the feckin fencing 🙂

    1. Ah, Ramblings … in the end it was our Body Corporate manager who sorted the first fecking fence for us. It seems he has seen and heard everything before and is not amazed (as I am) at how those trivialities can hold things up forever. You will be learning some valuable life skills in your new position. Good luck with it and thanks for dropping by. S. 🙂

  2. I do love that Robert Frost poem and there is a lot of wisdom in it. That being said, I know how expensive it is to maintain a fence and sometimes wish we could just do away with them all!

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