Good fences make good neighbors, someone said a long time ago. It seems a cynical statement; a fence, after all, keeps you at arm’s length. Are you a better neighbor because I’ve prevented you from getting too close?
Well, yes, actually that’s true. The particular neighbors Red and I had in mind, as we toiled this weekend on the new garden fence, were the breathtaking deer who wandered through the yard last week, and the little family of rabbits that hopped through the field toward the trees.
We have dreams, you see, of eating carrots and radishes and beets and lettuce and peas and beans that we planted in this soil with our own hands. And without this fence, our neighbors most likely will eat them first.
So yes, good fences make good neighbors. The fence tells them they can eat anything they like that they eat on this land on their side, just leave this little plot alone. With any luck we’ll live a long and harmonious life side by side; they will eat what grows wild out there, and we will eat our homegrown vegetables.
I know there are good analogies to be had and dots to connect about fences and neighbors and limits. My mind is beginning to form connections about a fence between my harmless phone calls and neighbors whose job it is to keep terrorists at bay and whose invasions of privacy turn them into terrorists themselves, for example.
But at this moment we’d just as soon sit and rest our weary arms and knees, admiring the new fence. And look, it’s just about time to thin the carrot plants.
Cross-posted to Door County Advocate