A Fence Is a Fence, Is a Fence, Is a Fence

As I sit in my backyard, I feel like I need to whisper, be quiet, behave. If I can’t relax in my backyard, then where?

I feel naked, exposed, like someone is listening in and I’m in trouble. Is this the new normal? If all my files and phone conversations are filed away in a secret, locked file, must my neighbors be privy to my secrets as well? No, I don’t believe in conspiracy theories, in case you wondered.

Take a look. What was once lush, thriving wisteria…see here:

beautiful wisteria

Now, it’s this:

Where did the flowers go?Don’t be fooled by the blooming trees in the back. It’s bare and bleak. (Note: I took a wide shot of the fence to elicit your sympathy).

If that picture doesn’t sadden you, then this one surely will:

What happened to the plant?
What happened to the plant?

This is all that’s left…

We must save the pod! The pod...it's all that's left.
Save THE POD! We must save it!!

I knew this was coming, although it was not mentioned. So, one day, I looked up, and our fanatical wisteria vine was no more. Our neighborhood is at the twenty-five year mark, which means all manners of improvement are flourishing…roofs fixed, dead trees chopped, ailing retaining walls replaced. That last one pertains to us.

The retaining wall needs to be replaced. It’s in a sad state. Interestingly enough, our neighbors down the way are also replacing their wall and have decided to include a gate that will join their backyards. Oh, if that isn’t neighborly love. Sadly, this does not apply to our neighborly relations.

Let’s just say that I now understand the value of acreage, the possibility of running free through the flowery fields, with a babbling brook, maybe a few sheep, free of cars and sidewalks.

Lovely
Minus the brook and flowers. You get the idea.
Yeah, I'm looking at you, sheep.
Yeah, I’m looking at you, sheep.

You could think of the suburban landscape in this fashion. Smash all the fences, and you would have one big sprawl of pools, patio furniture, BBQs, bushes, and gardens….like a lush field of green. Okay, that didn’t work, did it?

As a kid, I don’t recall the fences even though, indeed, they were there.

When I was growing up, we had a neighbor who spied our lemon tree sagging with delicious, juicy lemons. Well, what else could he do but hop the fence and partake of these lemons? Many of them were going to waste rotting on the ground. He visited our tree a few times, and then one day, we showed up on his doorstep with bags of lemons, and told him that he could have more whenever he wanted. I believe he did come to our door with a lemon request, but he also continued to hop the fence as this was just easier for him. We didn’t care either way.

Even though our neighbor had his share of lemons, we still managed to have the lemon fight of the century. It was an impromptu sleepover with at least twenty of us camped out in the backyard, a boys versus girls scenario. My brothers had lots of friends. Have you ever had a lemon thrown at your head? I can assure you, it hurts. It also leaves an unrivaled sticky mess. I’m sure if we poured sugar on our heads and jumped in the pool we would have had lemonade. The fences were not enough to keep the noise down, and my mom angrily called us all inside in the wee hours of the morning.

This paled in comparison to my brothers jumping off the slide buck naked into the shallow end of the pool, not safe by any means. This proved too much for the neighbors, and they called the cops. Of course, this only encouraged my brothers to stand longer at the top of the slide flashing themselves, making more noise, and turning the pool light on. In time, the neighbors attached a green, plastic panel to the top of our joined fence so they wouldn’t see their naked bodies. Oh, good times.

A fence, it can be invisible to some and not high enough to others, but in the end, it’s still there. And so, our new fence will be a prettier, sturdier one, and we will continue with our merry lives, and pretend that our backyard is an expansive landscape. Or not. Perhaps, I will simply share a glass of wine with my neighbor before the new fence goes up. Perhaps, it’s time.

photo credits: xalphas via photopin;ย Pat Dalton via photopin cc; foxypar4 via photopin cc

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54 thoughts on “A Fence Is a Fence, Is a Fence, Is a Fence

  1. I’m curios to hear if the dynamics of your relationship with your neighbor change while the fence is down.

    I remember a fence, long ago, encountered while drinking waaaay too much rum at the house of a friend of a friend.
    The fence separated us (about a dozen early twenties idiots) from their neighbor’s swimming pool.
    Fortunately we had a ladder.
    The neighbor, sadly, was not amused.

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    1. Guapo, I’ll be curious, too, to see if our relationship changes. Hmm…I’m thinking we will probably avoid each other. It seems like it could be a time of renewal. Who knows? Did you go in their swimming pool? Did ya? I’m sure you were tempted…or take a peek?

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      1. I was drunk, but in a rare moment of clarity, realized it would be a bad idea for me to go swimming.
        Or try to climb a ladder.
        (Seriously, I was hammered.)

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  2. Our backyard neighbours put up a gargantuan fence that created a Fort Knox feel around their home. Our kids jump on the trampoline high enough to see over the fence. Our relations were never more than cordial so I find it a kinda funny.

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  3. Wow. Way to ruin nature, neighbors. I don’t see why they had to get RID of the wisteria. Ensaddening. I never lived in a house so I don’t know the whole fence thing but I can see how fences can be both a blessing and a curse. Can’t we all just get along???

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    1. Oh, I know Weebs. My kids were so sad, too! I wish there was they could have saved it and there was no discussion, since it was on their property. It was amazing how different if felt without it! Really bare. We’ll have to make due. I know there will be full destruction before the new fence goes up. We manage ok, but sometimes fences are a blessing, like you said.

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  4. Robert Frost write: “Good fences make good neighbors.” I think there may be something to that.
    I had a view from my patio that because of the arrangement of trees and shrubs gave me a vista over my backyard and between two houses (without seeing the houses). It was wonderful–I felt like my 1/2 acre was 40. But–there’s always a but–new neighbors put up a fence. I lost 39 1/2 acres overnight. Forgiveness? Not yet! I feel your pain.

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    1. Actually, Ly, there are a lot of mature trees around the property that are really nice and give a sense of privacy and space. All of the fences are on their last leg. After a storm, there’s always one of them that’s falling apart. Like the quote. Oh, I hope you get that 39 1/2 back. Ouch!

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  5. How dare they. Just…… how dare they. I am livid. I say you throw milk over their fence so that it heats up in the sun and makes their entire garden smell of sour horribleness. That’ll teach them.

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  6. To misquote Robert Frost: “Good neighbors make good fences”, which is especially convenient if you have any “hot” merchandise you need to move quickly.

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    1. That’s for sure, Michelle. When I first moved into my neighborhood we organized a big block party and we all hung out, tried to get to know each. This lasted but a brief period, and then we all went separate ways. I live on a very big block though and there are sections where people are really close. Growing up, my mom’s best friend lived across the street. Now I see how special that was! That’s great you got to know your neighbors. I’m sure we were probably obnoxious too (but hopefully fun) as my family was very active, the days when lots of kids played in the streets.

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  7. Sadly– I dream of having a fence all around my house. I would hate to ruin the green landscape and the openness but when neighbors don’t jive- it is pure hell. I would miss the wisteria as well. Why did they do that? It was so beautiful. But maybe you will share a glass or two when the fence is down?
    I long for considerate, non nosey neighbors that don’t let their dogs poop in my yard.
    Pool hopping is the bomb.. so much fun ๐Ÿ™‚

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    1. Audra, I’m sorry about the dogs pooping in your yard. I have that problem, too, every so often. I’ll miss the wisteria. It was always such a beautiful sight in the spring when the flowers bloomed. I knew spring had arrived. Times change, I guess. I have never pool hopped…now that would be something if you didn’t have fences, right…otherwise we would have to climb that damn fence!

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  8. Interesting analogy of fences, Amy. Both literally and figuratively as you will soon be tearing yours down. In the figurative sense, I tend to keep my fence up at all times. I don’t let my guard down too often. But, you’ve got me thinking maybe I need to start being more open to my neighbors as well.

    By the way, your son is soooo adorable Just look at his big puppy eyes!

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    1. Thank you, Anka. The fence is a protective measure, isn’t it? It’s more than just privacy. I can’t believe the difference a plant can make. The whole backyard looks different. The plant was a little wild, even though I tried to cut it back. I think my neighbors like everything really tidy. I doubt that they will be putting in a new wisteria.

      Thanks! Yeah, he usually gets what he wants when he gives me that face!

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  9. Who, oh who, would tear down a wisteria of that magnificence!?? Who! That was amazing, and even I’m sad it’s gone… love this piece; love it to pieces. The images of lemon fights and your buck naked brothers taunting the neighborsโ€” Let me be clear, I’m not into your brothers, naked… just the idyllic image of that time and place. BTW: we just called our neighbors, after limited contact for 12 years. Her husband has developed Alzheimer’s and I wanted to let her know she could call anytime. “I am sad we never knew we had such kind neighbors,” she told me. Indeed. We’re going to have drinks soon. ๐Ÿ™‚

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    1. Believe me, I was sad when the wisteria was gone! I didn’t even get to say goodbye! Thanks. My childhood was a special time. So much has changed. My kids’ childhood is a lot of different, not as free I think. I’m glad I can think fondly about it. My brothers were trouble makers! And the lemon fight I’ll never forget. Oh, that’s great about your neighbors. It’s never too late to reach out to someone, I always say.

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  10. As was mentioned above, Robert Frost’s statement about ‘good fences’ rings true where i live. I have great neighbours and on one side we have a friendship gate. He also has a lot of oranges and lemons in his yard. The days of climbing the fence are over!

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    1. Wow, a friendship gate. I love that! It’s great you have that relationship with your neighbors, and that you have oranges and lemons that you don’t need to climb for. Our neighbor we had seemed to enjoy the climb. Or maybe, he saw that perfect lemon and just wanted to grab it.

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  11. It would be nice if we could live in a place with no fences. Well, where I am now has no fences, but it’s all apartment buildings, so it’s pretty much the same.

    Growing up, our first town had no fences, but then, it was really small (200 people) and the only danger was the cows getting into everything. Our second house had fences on all sides, but since our neighbors all put up their own fences in the back, every side of our backyard was a different color and style.

    By the way, it’s a real shame about your wisteria. That looked wonderful.

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    1. I guess the street has no fences and that’s the expansive landscape, although it’s not so green.

      You lived in a town with just 200 people?! My! How was that? Your second house sounds like it was quite festive being all different colors and styles, no HOA there huh? I had a friend who painted door red, and she got a call, and had to get approval from all her neighbors.

      Yes, I will miss the wisteria, and it was a mature, beautiful plant. I wonder what will take its place. I’ll miss the flowers in the spring!

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      1. I’ve never lived anywhere with a HOA and don’t want to. When I was doing tech support for a cable company I heard all kinds of horror stories about the cable company messing up and the owners have to pay up to $50/day fine for something sitting on their lawn. It gets a bit ridiculous.

        Small towns are nice in some ways. Everyone knows everyone, which is both good and bad. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  12. Fences are a great denominator – I was chattng to my neighbour last night over the fence – she was telling me about her ailments – I was telling her about the new windows going in. Then the neighbour next to her joined in about his new shed and then the neighbour next to him talked about his compost. I was wondering how far it could have gone on for like some huge chinese whisper. Shame about the wisteria – looked lovely.

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    1. That’s funny, Ginger. I can just picture the talk over the fences, the house talk. Home improvement is never ending, isn’t it? I guess that’s something all neighbors have in common! I am sad about the wisteria, still! Nothing can really take its place. You knew it was spring when the flowers bloomed.

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  13. We moved to our neighborhood 27 years ago … then was a neighborhood of no fences. Today a some exist, many as a result of dogs, although i have a pool next door. Nonetheless, none of the fences are wooden walls. Interestingly, we came from a neighborhood with every house having a chain-link fence.

    Losing the wisteria is a shame.

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    1. Frank, that’s an interesting history of fences in your life. What a different neighborhood yours must be than mine. The fence especially feels like a wooden wall without the vegetation, which a lot of times hides the fence altogether. I guess there’s that.

      I’ll miss it! That’s been there forever, too, so it’s sad.

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  14. What a total drag, yo. I’m such a hippie because I get a bit teary whenever trees come down, whether from cutting or otherwise. You should plant a money tree to help restore some privacy..

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    1. Adam, we also had three trees chopped down, too, because they were all dead or diseased. It hasn’t been a good year! A drag, for sure. It’s going to be a summer without privacy which makes me spend less time in backyard. A money tree…hey, I need one of those.

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  15. Oh gosh, the loss of that wisteria is indeed sad! Not just the perceived loss of privacy, but it was so much prettier with that there. It’s quite private and secluded where I live, people can’t really look in from the sides, and at the end is rolling fields. I just remembered the story of my friend who had a fairly high fence and one day went out to bounce on her daughter’s trampoline topless (not something I would do myself even if I thought it was private, but anyway!), she was bouncing away, in more ways than one, for several minutes, and then did a half turn jump and saw that the jumping made her higher than the fence, and there in his backyard was her neighbour, just sitting on a sun-lounger watching her!

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    1. It is sad, indeed, to not see the wisteria. It’s really changed the look and feel of the whole backyard. It’s amazing that one plant can do that. Your neighborhood sounds very picturesque with rolling fields at the end. Are there sheep, too? Babbling brook?

      That’s hilarious about your friend!!! That was a good laugh!! Thanks, Vanessa. I’m wondering if your friend ever talked to her neighbor after that one. I imagine it was a bit awkward for awhile! Ha, that’s story material right there.

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  16. Your childhood appears to be very similar to mine, Amy (and yes – I have been hit in the head with a flying lemon!)

    I can’t believe that beautiful wisteria is gone – YIKES, it looks awful without it there anymore ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

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    1. Dianne, you’ve been hit by a lemon as well. Ouch, huh??!! I’m not sure too many people can say that one. We must be kindred spirits!

      I didn’t even get to say goodbye to the beautiful wisteria! It does look bad and sad. But nothing will replace it until the new fence goes in, and who knows how long that will take. I bet you know all about that with your RUC. You just have to accept it won’t happen overnight.

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  17. Getting nature-hating neighbors is a reason I’m nervous to buy a home. Unlike an apartment, there isn’t a moderator you can talk to and say, “Hey, the person next door sucks. Fix it.”

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    1. True, Jen. It’s funny. I’ve lived in apartments most of my life and always thought that when I lived in a house the neighbor issues would go away. You have more space, but you still have neighbors. They’re just a little further away. My mom had her best friend across the street. I still hope for that somewhere. I think they really had to pull this plant out. It’s just sad!!

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  18. Oh, no! That wisteria looks so nice (looked so nice, I guess I should say)! ๐Ÿ˜ฆ I’m not much of a landscaper, but that really seems like the sort of thing you wouldn’t want to loose! That’s kind of a bummer, Amy!
    I grew up in a very rural area, my neighbors were trees, a river and a field… so I didn’t really have close neighbors and / or a fence-type situation. Which is maybe why I hadn’t spent much time thinking about what that dynamic might be like… hmm…
    ๐Ÿ™‚

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    1. It is sad, Robert, just sad. (wiping tears). I’m over it, I suppose. I just don’t like the bareness now.
      Your childhood neighborhood seems so idyllic with a river and a field. I did have a field, too, before they built track homes on it. I definitely did not have a river! Sounds pretty.

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  19. There weren’t many fences in my home town. There still aren’t that many. However there were clotheslines back then. I remember playing tag at dusk and getting clotheslined! Literally!

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      1. Lot’s of fond memories of growing up. Gasping for air on the ground that night wasn’t one of them. But a very memorable experience. I grew up in Iowa. I’ve spent most of my adult life in other places, but still enjoy a good visit.

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      2. Yeah, that’s what I thought…that couldn’t have been fun! Yikes, Eric. Okay, I kind of didn’t think it was San Diego. Iowa sounds more like it. That’s cool you can go back and remember your fenceless childhood!

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  20. I loved this, Amy! I put a gate in my fence so my neighbor and I could have easy access to each other’s house. Aren’t we just special? Don’t answer that. We also bought fences that would match so that our property would look like a little compound. Great idea, huh? We don’t get to choose our neighbors – all I can say is, thank goodness, I love mine.
    The missing Wisteria makes me soo sad. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ What a total waste of a heavenly plant. It’s almost cruel and abusive to have taken it down. So thoughtless…

    You would love my yard, Amy. It’s what sold me on my house. It’s 2 and a 1/2 acres of Shangri-La. It’s one of the reasons I decided to stay here a little longer. Why move if I don’t have to? I don’t think I’ll ever be able to duplicate it again. I’ve planted everything from flowers to shrubs to trees. When I look around at my work it feels darn good.
    You have the right attitude, though, and any yard, no matter what size it is, can be a paradise. I know that to be true.
    Great post! xoxo

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    1. Hi Lisa! My apologies for taking so long to respond. I’ve been on a blogging break. Thanks for your kind comments. Yes, it’s not the same without the wisteria. The whole backyard has a different feel since it’s been gone. It’s amazing that a plant could have so much impact.

      It’s no wonder you stayed in your house. It sounds like a paradise!! I love outdoor spaces. I’m the kind of person who likes to eat outside (my husband doesn’t like to). How wonderful for you that you can enjoy your space and your neighbors. That makes all the difference in deciding to stay or leave a place. My mom had her best friend across the street for years. It was everything to her to have her there. Well, I hope you’re enjoying your backyard this summer! Thanks! xoxo

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