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Pondering fences and their removal

By Rich Byers • Guest Columnist | Robert Frost said that “fences make good neighbors.” I get that. I am not a sociable person. However, I do know and like almost all my neighbors. And, granted, my entire yard is fenced in. It makes it much easier to have two dogs who are sociable, sort of.

Last Saturday, sitting on our porch, my wife and I heard a racket different than we had been hearing over the last year. It was wonderful. Here is the parable to ponder:

There was a vacant lot cattycorner from our home which a very nice person bought some years ago. He has improved and maintained that empty lot for some time, and late last year he started building a beautiful little home here. We have talked to him several times, and we look forward to this new neighbor.

But, on one border of this property there has been a six-foot privacy fence for a long time. It seems to say “Keep Out” just by its size and length.

Now, this fence is owned by a wonderful young family whom we also know. Here is the thing: they bought this home a few years ago when the fence was already there. They didn’t install it. This fence was already part of everybody’s reality when they moved in.

So, last Saturday, as the young couple banged at that big fence, and panel after panel came down, our neighborhood looked more and more beautiful. We just sat in deep amazement and gratitude at what was happening. Another border gone.

And then the young family went over to the new home and our newest neighbor welcomed them in to see his new house. It was such a glimpse of promise. A hope that things will get better someday. Now, we have no idea what was said between the neighbors or what started it. And, there are those who will say that I am simplifying deep unsettled issues. Agreed, you can view this as a simplistic tale. But, is there any value to a ray of sunshine today? We value every one of them as best we can.

Between the increasing hateful rhetoric everywhere and the viral suffocations we endure daily, can you imagine what a wonderful joyful thing it was to see a fence come down?

So, our neighborhood is just a little more beautiful. I have no idea who said what to who that resulted in opening up that space between them, but if you want me to spell it out, here it is:

We all have fences somewhere, and maybe we didn’t build them. They are just there for us. But, if we can talk around the fence, if we can reach out, both sides reaching out, maybe a fence will come down. It is a wonderful thing to celebrate. Another fence down!!

Thanks to our unnamed neighbors. You’re great!

(Rich Byers is a retired English as a Second Language teacher and an active beekeeper. He lives in Waynesville.)

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