Good Fences Make Good Neighbors
by Jesse Loren
Arizona has the drug cartels to annoy their borders. Compared with that, I may as well have unicorns for the fence I share with my neighbors. But even unicorns can be a problem.
“Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,” Frost wrote in the poem “Mending Wall.” In the poem the speaker and the neighbor walk the wall and mend the displaced boulders together.
Frost’s poem is so fictional.
I can’t imagine my neighbors working together so smoothly. The problem might be that one side of my property lines up with three different neighbors’ backyards. It might be that all three neighbors are in different financial states. Whatever the reason, the solution looks like this.Neighbor 1 has two destructive bulldogs that attack the fence, eat through the boards, and try to bite us if we mow or do any landscaping. Over the course of a few years the fence has become patched with all manner of ugly boards to keep his dogs out. My family moved AWAY from the south, so looking like the Mason-Dixon Line was not our aim in life. The fence needed replacement. Neighbor 1 said he would do the work if we would pay half. He charged us $700 for about 30 feet. He didn’t use galvanized steel, and the nails have streaked the wood. It is better than the old fence, but for $700, I either paid the cost of all materials, or the fence has inlaid gold on his side.
“Good fences make good neighbors,’” the neighbor says in “Mending Wall,” so I don’t complain about the exorbitant cost. What’s done is done.On to Neighbor 2. We have 110 feet in common. The fence stands because it is bewitched. Only a spell could keep that ol’ thing up. Between the visiting pit bull on my side and “Blue”—the Australian Shepherd who likes to escape into our yard, eat the dog food, take a crap, swim some laps, and hump my dog before going home—this fence needs the most work. Neighbor 2 found a fencing company who will tear down the old fence and install a 6’ fence with metal posts and will include labor and materials for $700 each. We are on it. Like the Frost poem, it is all about what we are walling in and walling out.
“Something there is that doesn’t love a wall.” And that would be Neighbor 3. He has a big pool with a disappearing edge. It’s the best pool around. He has staked and re-staked his side of the fence. He only slightly repaired it when he put his pool in, and now, for the 30 feet we share, he has too much on his plate to put out his half of the $500 needed to replace the portion we share. That’s right. The same company will do these 30 feet for only 500 bucks. He has a yappy little dog; it could be a small snack for our visiting pit bull. I’m not sure I shouldn’t just shell out the whole $500 myself and call it even.
Good fences do make good neighbors.