Good neighbors have great fences

Love your neighbor as yourself; but don’t take down the fence.

Carl Sandberg, poet, d. 1967

I know most of my neighbors – at least those directly across from me and to either side -on my side of the street. We have been sharing tools, swapping stories, our wives exchanging baked Christmas gifts and helping out each other for nearly twenty years. I think it was eight years ago, that we expanded my backyard and put in a retaining wall. Neighbors and friends helped backfill the new concrete wall, and with demolition of a decayed patio cover. I left other home improvements to pros – a bathroom remodel, a new roof and solar panel installation, a tankless -style water heater, and kitchen counters, among other enhancements.

Outside, some things were prompted by gophers which killed my yard first. I resorted to mainly dirt and desert-friendly plants. My neighbors tried to keep their lawns alive but Climate Change, stubborn pests, and retirement planning, where major improvements might be unwise budget moves, prompted swift action. However, I am a bit envious of my neighbor’s new landscaping and RV, though it did result in a shared run of concrete driveway, a new fence and masonry between our two homes. On the other side, the improvements my southern neighbor has been making were distinctly separated by an ugly, decaying, thirty year old cedar fence. Then I agreed to split the cost with Robert as it will enhance both our properties. Then I got a text that Monday, today, the crew would begin – and probably finish the work, today..

My contribution before the arrival of the work crew: moving fifty concrete blocks, three bundles of rusting rebar, and four rose bush planters away from the old fence line. In the following nine hours, four guys took down an old fence, tackled obstacles, removed debris, and had a brilliant-white vinyl fence completely installed. With good neighbors, fences are not meant to keep us apart. Perhaps they keep our dogs apart – but for my close neighbors, it makes our properties appear well-maintained. However, at the rear, the property line is elevated twelve or fourteen feet above my back yard. we do not have a relationship with the people in back. However, their second story windows look down directly into our single story living room. Bright floodlamps illuminate their yard and ours at night, and their family gatherings going late on Sunday evenings, blare music into all our homes downhill. For our sanity, I meant privacy, a new fence is now highest on my to-do list.

Carl Sandburg was right. Love your neighbor as yourself. But a good-looking fence may help keep it this way.

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