One would ask, well perhaps it is only me that would ask “Does a new fence really make that much of a difference?” Maybe it is only me whom also comes up with these many thoughts in response to that question. I do wonder about my grey matter chatter sometimes.
I loved the character of the old wooden fence. It’s palings that had been nudged apart by an invasive vine determined not to let anything stand in its way of sprawling over the timber partition. The knots and gnarls in the timber, the steadfast posts that had not moved since they were positioned there an eternity ago, and the defiance of not giving way despite all the odds against it gave the old wooden fence its identity.
It spanned the entire length of the property and had been there since the parcel of land was first cordoned off as the development of housing blocks took place decades before. Some parts of it had succumbed to forces it was not able to withstand. Something had once gnawed its way into some railings and the attached palings had taken a bow, here and there. Each little difference added to its personality.
I steeled myself the day the work began to pull it down. It was swift. I had already taken photos from one end to the other. I would not miss the vines that had suffocated a quarter of it. They were painfully difficult to tame; full of dust, had little hooks that grasped anything it their path and grew rapidly without apology. I would miss the warmth and character of the timber fence though. It was a softer, subtle divider to the neighbour’s property. We could exchange words over the fence and it was just the right height for privacy yet allowed for a view into the vast beyond.
For a couple of days, there was a temporary mesh partition. It was erected to keep my beloved canine Bella from entering and exploring their yard. It also prevented her from testing her jumping ability on the far side of their yard where the fence was considerably lower and in very poor condition. A strong gust of wind would topple it with the absence of the vine. Although I felt somewhat exposed being visible through the mesh, it was refreshing to have that much more light and depth to the beyond; a nice view indeed.
Then came the teeth chattering, ear piercing, bone grating sound of metal being drilled. That high pitch squeals of protest as drill bits forced their way through the green metal. The whirr and buzz of the power tools in constant use was a challenge for my sound sensitivities. I felt edgy. I sought distraction and reminded myself that this was rather temporary, so hang on.
Yes, it was temporary, for that day anyway. The following day it all began again. The doors were left closed for as long as possible in an attempt to buffer the noises. Feeling of exposure continued and I felt very naked when I walked into the kitchen and outside, through the floor length windows of the dining room opposite, three men were seen only metres from me. I was taken aback as I had not heard a word from them about entering the property that day. As I had kept myself preoccupied it came as a surprise to see these folks standing there.
Before long, it was done and dusted. The entire new fence was erected and complete. The divider, the separator, the partition now stands firmly like a staunch Buckingham Palace soldier. It will not move, waiver nor give an inch. Standing tall like an anchored cordon, it is cold, has no character, is plain and bland along every millimetre of its expanse.
What struck me most was how barricaded I now feel. It is like I have been fenced it. I am contained with the perimeter with no chance of exchanging words over the fence unless I gather a soapbox or two to stand on. Its boasting demeanour, given it is taller than I am, is oppressive. I feel a sense of claustrophobia at being more confined than before.
How sad is it to think that these days, fences are property dividers which no longer allow for neighbours to interact with one another, share their home-grown produce over the fence, throw the balls and Frisbees that have found their way into your yard back over. They are now these metal monstrosities that are so tall, you feel imprisoned in your own backyard. Why the need for such private seclusion from the world, well, neighbours actually? No wonder communities are faltering. Contain people within overbearingly high fences so they can hide from the eyes of anyone who steps outside into their backyard.
My empathy for the caged bird is much greater with a stronger understanding of the restriction felt by the encapsulating structure around it. I feel as though I have been pushed into a cage, except this one has high solid walls. A sense of being squeezed in, like the walls are coming in on me, surrounds me however it is the fences. I am still at a loss as to why it needed to be so high. Already I desire to fill the border along it with colourful shrubs and foliage to soften the harshness and brighten my day. Plants that will grow skyward, seeking the sun, ones that will dwarf this structure and draw my eye above its ugliness are appealing.
So does a new fence really make a difference? To me, yes it does and not in the most positive of ways today. In time shall it make another difference? One shall have to wait and see.