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 out-door 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.”
– Robert Frost, “Mending Wall”
Fences, in my experience, do not make good neighbors. In fact, it seems to be just the opposite. Fences — and the property boundaries they represent — make for horrible neighbors. What’s mine, what’s yours, who’s responsible for this, who’s responsible for that. On our tiny plot of carefully manicured suburbia, we’ve become so territorial and defensive that we’ve forgotten how to be neighbors. How to be respectful of each other. How to be (dare I say it) nice to one another.
You might recall that I haven’t exactly had a great history with my neighbors. I’ve yelled at them and called the cops on them. More than once. And more than one set of neighbors. Mister Rogers would be so disappointed in me.