Monday, February 24, 2014

Walls and Fences

This is a city of fences and walls. A fence of metal bars with sharp, pointed tips separates our front garden from the sidewalk. In the spaces between the bars passersby can enjoy looking into our garden. To open the front gate requires two keys, another two needed to unlock the front door, a necessary precaution against ladrones. Our backyard is surrounded by a tall wall, keeping us from peering into our neighbors’ yards or them into ours, providing privacy and a measure of security, though not hindering a quick conversation with Soledad next door.

My family home in California had no front fence, nor did anyone in the neighborhood. The few fences in my hometown are low, picket ones. When I visit there, I stay with friends with a large yard, open even to let the neighbor’s two goats wander onto their deck. I made the mistake one day of leaving a door open, the goats taking this as an invitation to enter. I learned one thing about goats: they do not come when you call. I managed to coax them out by waving a granola bar in front of them.

 I agree with Robert Frost. Something there is that doesn’t love a wall…I’d like to live in a wall-less place with open vistas and no fear of intruders, but it’s an impractical idea for city living. Yet walls and fences only reach so high, enabling me to view from my second floor window the rugged, majestic Andes topped by luminous mushroom clouds.

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