There, by the starlit fences the wanderer halts and hears my soul that lingers sighing about the glimmering weirs. A.E Housman
I wasn’t keen on a new fence and I wasn’t on board with the design or the height. Though I lament I can’t fault the workmanship or the expediency with which it was built. I have no quarrel there. Now this fence has been constructed I recall thoughts I had in Berlin where I started thinking about the concept of walls and barriers; to segregate and mark territory, to keep some within and some out. I recall too when I stood on the Great Wall of China and traipsed along Hadrian’s Wall and had similar thoughts. I realise, these structures are walls and not to be confused with fences which are made of lighter weight materials and usually for different purposes. Nevertheless, a fence is a barrier. Plain and simple.
I’ve mix feelings about this new wall of ours. I can’t help agreeing with Frost who, communicates in his poem Mending Wall that a fence is unnecessary and unfriendly. Though others would no doubt side with his neighbour who believes “Good fences make good neighbours.” I can’t see my neighbours anymore. I like them. I’d have been glad not to see the previous neighbours but alas no fence would have stopped their repugnant reverberations from drifting across the top in the wee hours.
“A good neighbour is a fellow who smiles at you over the back fence, but doesn’t climb over it.” Oh, Baer, too true. Though if I can’t see them I can’t smile at them. Our old, decrepit fence was low enough for me to hurdle which was fortuitous on a number of occasions: one night to check on the elderly lady adjacent to my property during an electrical blackout and on another, leaping the fence enabled me to help a neighbour after she fell in her garden. There are times jumping fences is acceptable.
“To be fenced in is to be withheld.” – Kurt Tippett I hear you. I feel hemmed in. I liked the openness between yards, the view to the forest unimpeded by barriers or blockades. Now this timber wall confronts me each and everyday and I immediately feel enclosed.
Fences are not new. We humans have a long history of fence building and of erecting barriers for all manner and purposes. The moat was a type of fence. I could just about live with a moat, I think, though I’d have to brush up on my long jumping skills. As I become accustomed to the new boundary around my home I’ll leave you with some interesting fence trivia.
- Hedge fencing and topiary fencing is one of the earliest forms of fencing ever recorded and were first used for enclosing cereal crops.
- Military areas, zoos and industrial plants are required by law to have appropriate fencing.
- In 1873, barbed wire fencing was invented at the De Kalb County Fair in Illinois.
- Strangely, Marilyn Monroe was quoted as saying ‘A women’s dress should be like a barbed wire fence: serving it’s purpose without obstructing the view’. (The analogy is a harsh one in my mind.)
- The ‘Rabbit Proof Fence’ in Western Australia was more than 3000 kilometres long.
- The ‘Dingo Fence’, also in Australia, is the longest fence on earth at 5,600 kilometres.
- A fence hidden in a ditch is called a Ha-ha.
- There is a tiny town called Fence in Aurora County in Wisconsin, USA.