Fences Are Us



Fences - our billboards that advertise some of our most personal feelings to the world.  Hadn’t thought of it quite that way? Here’s what I’m seeing.  Having recently moved from a large metropolitan area to the more laid-back environment of a small town, I’ve noticed an apparent correlation between the kinds of fences we have around our property or neighborhood - and how we feel about ourselves and where we’re living.  Let’s take the metro area first.


“Enjoy peace of mind in the new, secure, gated community of Serenity Lakes!”   Ahhh, doesn’t it make you feel all warm and fuzzy?  Finally, you’ll be able to sleep nights knowing that all will be well in your little corner of the world.  A corner by the way, that is sectioned off and protected by a BIG block or wrought iron fence.  Otherwise, there wouldn’t be much need for the gate, would there?   All this of course implies that somewhere deep inside, the people that prefer to live in this special community may be harboring just a touch of insecurity – a bit of fear that something bad could happen to them or their family if they were living naked and exposed in the midst of Perilville. 


Speaking of naked and exposed, I’m assuming that there is also a possibility that these folks may have – in addition to the BIG fence – a smaller fence that encloses a part of their personal plot of land.  Yeah?  Why?  Don’t they trust their neighbors who are sharing the security of the gated community?  Maybe they’re not certain that the BIG fence is really big enough to do its job?  Or maybe they are seeking the privacy of their own personal enclosure that does indeed permit them to be… ahem… naked and not quite so exposed in the comfort of their own back yard. 


So there we have it.  Fences are for security and privacy.  OK, realizing that it would take any semi-adept scoundrel a maximum of three point seven seconds to clear just about any of them, they may not be all that effective in eliminating mischievous marauders.  But what the heck, if they make you feel better…


Let’s transition to a small town.  Check out the fences.  In looking around, I see a few four foot chain link fences in the back yards.  Since just about anyone over the height of three foot two could pop over those in a couple of seconds, I’d guess they’re not built for security.  Obviously, not for privacy either.  So what’s their purpose?  Oh, c’mon, you know.  It’s to prevent the shorter kids from chasing squirrels out into the street – and to keep the dogs from roaming off to an evening of carousing and canine pleasure.  Oh, there may or not be a dog or a child presently living in the household but you can know with an almost absolute certainty that there was at one time. 


But where are the tall, sturdy, secure block or chain link fences?  Oh, you’ll see a few here and there around some business property.  That’s about it.  Other than that you may spot a decorative picket fence or maybe a split log rail installed to add to the rustic appearance of a property.  Hmmm, it is interesting, isn’t it?  Interesting that the folks who live in this small town feel so secure.  Secure within themselves and with the comfort that they honestly know and communicate with their neighbors (translated: “friends”) – and with the knowledge that their neighbors care enough to actually keep an eye on everyone’s property to make sure no one is just “snoopin’ around”. 


But what about the privacy?  What about it?  If you plan to be doing something that you don’t want anyone else to see, I’ll guarantee you that you’ll be inside the house behind drawn drapes.  Other than that, no one really cares if their neighbors watch them mow the lawn or work in the garden.  It’s completely acceptable and even deserving of a wave or a short chat under the maple tree or on the front porch.  (Ya gotta take a break from the chores once in a while, ya know.)


About the only other fences you’ll see in this neck of the woods are the ones that are built to prevent livestock (that would be like horses, cows, pigs and goats for you city slickers) from wandering off onto a neighbor’s property.  That’s just a common sense thing to do.  Besides, if we expect to personally benefit from next door Betty’s fantastic tomato crop next year, it would be wise to prevent our cows from trampling her garden!


So other than a neighborly desire (with a few selfish undertones) to protect a nearby vegetable garden and a common sense motivation to keep our – and sometimes nature’s - animals where they belong, there’s just no reason to build fences.  No fears for our personal well-being or impingements on our privacy.   No hesitations or worries about what our neighbors might do that could adversely affect our lives. 


It’s a good way to live…



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