Sugar Builds A Fence

Remember when his next-door neighbors burned the buffer zone along the common property line? And surprise! The buffer zone turned out to be his. 

I can’t forget it. So much weirdness involving that event. 

They started a fire and left it unattended. They left home completely. That fire was so close to jumping into the woods by the time Sugar discovered what was going on. The man next door had also been walking through the buffer zone and chopping at bushes and trees with a machete. He walked along Sugar’s driveway with a blower and cleared a path along at least 100 feet, intentionally making a fire break on property that wasn’t even his. Their first language is not English, but in what country is any of that behavior acceptable? 

Sometimes we turn things over and over in our heads trying to work out stuff just right. Sugar really didn’t want to build a privacy fence. But he wanted privacy. The kind of fence he was going to build would look like a wall, but he was only going to make it long enough to block his view of their house. He just didn’t want to look at their collection of junk any more. They are hoarders, of sorts, but also sloppy. An old motorboat that doesn’t work, a junked truck, a camper shell, children’s shoes, a half-built playhouse, discarded clothing, overflowing trashcans, plus other random items. 

It was a multi-purpose fence. You stay over there; I stay over here. I don’t look at your junk; you don’t look at mine. You don’t burn Sugar’s property; he won’t mutter crazytalk in your direction. 

During the planning and execution stages, Sugar took to quoting Robert Frost about fences and neighbors. 

Machete-wielding neighbor has hacked at Sugar’s trees and bushes.

This reminds me of a child tramping through the woods with a stick, striking out at anything and everything he encounters. 

Finally the fence is done. 

It’s about seven feet tall and sixty-four-ish feet long. 

We wonder what message this sends to the neighbor children. 

We also wonder what kind of message the children receive from seeing their parents leave an unattended fire to burn their neighbor’s property. 

At any rate, it is done. 

Mending Wall

Robert Frost, 1874 – 1963
 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.’

6 Responses to “Sugar Builds A Fence”

  1. Sharon Says:

    Build it strong to fence the good in. My crazy neighbor just played chicken in her SUV against me and my grandson in the stroller as we were coming back from our walk. Too bad I can fence the street or better yet leave her fire ants. Yeah, we pressed charges, but still, who are these people. She did mention to the police that I also play ” hippie music”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ruth Rawls Says:

      Sharon, I “like” your comment to commend your bravery at playing your hippie music. I do not like that your peaceful existence cannot be accepted by your neighbor. I’m beyond dismayed.


  2. Emily Says:

    Sugar did a great job. Beautiful work!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Audrey Bateson Says:

    Not nice neighbours you have!


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