Good Fences…

…make good neighbors.  At least that’s how the saying goes.  Lately I’ve found myself often thinking about that statement, cliche, proverb… whatever you call it.  Let me tell you why, in my typical roundabout fashion.

My family lives in a modest Cape Cod style home.  We’ve got a small house on a small plot of land.  There’s no garage, no basement.  It lacks storage space.  There’s a run-down shed in the backyard.  The lawn is a bit uneven, and mostly green.  A small 10 ft by 10 ft garden produces tomatoes and cucumbers each year.  A hammock hangs between a post and a pine tree.  And then there’s the fencing.  The yard is enclosed by fences of varying heights and types.  Fences that range from three to six feet high.  Stockade fence, dog-ear fence, and chain-link.  Brown, grey, and off-white.  Many people would be annoyed by the mismatched fence.  I think it fits in well with my family’s lifestyle.

And right now, I wouldn’t trade it for a bigger, fancier house.  Why is that? Two reasons:  it’s a cozy home/yard, and we have wonderful neighbors.

So why the focus on fencing?  Because I recognize the importance of the right fence.  The fences on the sides of my yard serve as more than barriers to keep neighbors’ pets out of my yard, or my kids and their toys out of theirs.  They certainly aren’t there for privacy… both fences are only about three feet high.  No, instead they are places for conversation.  Each summer we spend hours leaning on those fences, chatting with our neighbors.  Discussions about children, pets, gardens, pesky squirrels, vacations, projects, health, and even taxes take place across the fence. When I see other homeowners in the neighborhood erecting privacy fences, I’ll admit that I’m a bit saddened.  I firmly believe that our short, mis-matched fences have helped us build great relationships with our neighbors.  It’s a big part of what has made our house and property a cozy home.

I only own a fraction of the fencing around our backyard.  An 11-foot section of it is in dire need of replacement.  It was one of my neighbors who offered to take me in his truck to pick up the replacement fencing.  I expect that he and I will be out later in the week to put up the fence.

Maybe the saying should be:  “Good neighbors build good fences.”

How many of our problems could be solved if we just treated each other like good neighbors, fences or no fences?

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