Falcone's Crossroads

Where This Meets That

Good Fences Make Good Neighbors?

Robert Frost’s poem “Mending Wall” quoted an obscure proverb that says, “Good fences make good neighbors.”

When my family moved into our current home seven springs ago, our yard was fenced on only one side. We had made a mental note during the purchasing process that we would need to afford a fence before long.

I mean, why not? Every house I’d ever lived in had a fenced back yard. It seemed only natural.

But standing then on our deck, gazing at the abundant spring blooms of our new neighborhood, I noticed something was missing from all the yards in the direction opposite our one fenced boundary: fences. The back yards on our side of the street all flowed together in a continuum. No man-made obstacles in sight.

“Huh,” I thought.

One of my friend’s dads used to theorize that our trend away from big front porches and toward big back decks symbolized the breakdown of community in our society.

Subtle as a breeze turned away by always-closed double-paned glass windows, I think he might’ve been onto something.

Of course, fences are nothing new. Qin Shi Huang, the First Emperor of the Qin Dynasty, said when ordering the construction of China’s Great Wall around 220 B.C., “Great fence make neighbor respectful.”

And, of course, society has always had its strife, its rogue elements who represent communal breakdown.

I would love a big front porch, but I do enjoy our back deck. Without it, I might’ve never realized the value of an unfenced yard.

So, do “good fences make good neighbors?” I think not as good as smiles and waves and “how do you do’s”.

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2 comments on “Good Fences Make Good Neighbors?

  1. pouringmyartout
    September 4, 2012

    I like the idea of no fences… except we have a dog… and a really obnoxious neighbor on one side…

  2. Grande Falcone
    September 5, 2012

    Not strictly speaking literally here . . .

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This entry was posted on September 4, 2012 by in Philosophers' Row and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .
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