Monday, July 8, 2013

"Something there is that doesn't love a wall . . . "

I think it was TIME that didn't love this fence,
along with relentless WEATHER,
invasive Japanese HONEYSUCKLE,
and 21st Century LANDSCAPING imperatives.

Mending Wall

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it
And spills the upper boulders in the sun,
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.

I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
“Stay where you are until our backs are turned!”
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of outdoor game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, “Good fences make good neighbors.”

Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
“Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down.”
I could say “Elves” to him,
But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather
He said it for himself. I see him there,
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father’s saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, “Good fences make good neighbors.”

[emphasis added]

Robert Frost, 1874 - 1963
Four-time Pulitzer Prize winning well - loved American poet

These three fence posts came to light last month when some contractors got busy clearing an overgrown lot just a couple of blocks up the street. Every day as I drove or biked past, I would remind myself to bring the camera next time, and every day I would forget. I had noticed a couple of nearby trees marked with an orange "X" for demolition and was concerned that the fence posts might be slated for a similar fate.

Finally, on the 4th of July, I wrote at the top of my "to do" list: "Photograph Fence Posts." Capturing this little bit of fading Americana seemed like a fitting observation for our all - American holiday. So, I stopped by around noon with my camera and got a few good shots, while across the yard someone was plowing up the ground with a Bobcat. I briefly wondered why he wasn't taking the day off and whether or not the fence posts were long for this world.

However, when I walked by at five o'clock, the Bobcat was at rest under a tree, no workers were in sight, and the posts were still standing. I admired them from across the street, on my way to the evening swim, and congratulated myself for having gotten the photographs earlier in the day.

As I returned home from the pool an hour later, I was dumbfounded to see no fenceposts! What? Was I hallucinating? No, I knew for sure that they had been there at noon, and again as recently as 5pm. But now they were gone! All gone! I guess the plowing job had indeed included the elimination of these remnants of an earlier time in Indiana. What a pity! Can you imagine how mad at myself I would have been if I had not remembered to take those photographs at noon? What timing!

My friends at the pool were saying: "Those posts are amazing! I am so glad you got the picture! Thanks for sharing." And the following day when they heard about the disappearance: "I am going to imagine that an artist or craftsperson took them and we will see them again! I'll bet someone who is artistic could do something really interesting with those." My husband Gerry made an additional instructive observation; he assured me that no one, artistic or otherwise, had yet taken the posts because he could see them in the dumpster that was parked at the construction site.

I was thinking of imploring him or my sons to drive by in our truck and help me on a rescue mission. But, in the end, inspired by my friends, I realized that all by myself I could retrieve the posts from the dumpster (they are not too heavy) and balance them home on my bike basket. Yes, they would be salvaged by an artistic craftsperson -- me! Lets hear it for American trash picking!

Now that the three fence posts are in my possession, I guess my next project will be thinking of what to do with my shabby chic (okay, shabby shabby) souvenirs!

You may recall from previous blog posts that Gerry and I
have two such posts remaining on our property line.
I decorate them every Christmas and would never dream
of removing them! Not so much because I love a wall,
but because I love these artifacts of local history.

2012 ~ Plaid Flannel

2011 ~ Candy Stripes

Click to see a few more Indiana fence posts . . .

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