There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.—Will Rogers
The wide world is all about you: you can fence yourselves in, but you cannot forever fence it out.
Two of our neighbors have fences. One is a simple chain link that boxes in the back yard, making it perfect for pets, which they don’t have, or children, which are only there every other weekend. The other neighbor has been more definitive about his property, though. He has a tall, eight-foot privacy fence around his backyard. This is because he has a pool around which he enjoys throwing parties throughout the summer. We’re thankful that fence is there not just because it keeps Kat’s little ones from playing in the water but also because we really have no desire to see our neighbor in a Speedo. You just can’t unsee that.
Beyond the privacy fence, though, the neighbor also has a stretch of chain link that stretches to the end of his driveway, establishing a firm boundary. Then, presumably so we wouldn’t have to look at the side of his garage, he has a very tall and full shrubbery. This isn’t the evergreen kind like we have, but is more tree-like with a thick covering of leaves from the ground to the sky; it is very good cover and would likely grow quite tall if he’d let it.
Not everyone in our neighborhood likes the shrubbery, though. We have one neighbor, a fussy little old woman who claims to be close friends with the chief of police, despite the rotating nature of that position. She doesn’t exactly like the privacy fence, either, but there’s nothing she can do about that thanks to the pool. This fall, just as summer was coming to a close, the top-most leaves of the shrubbery began peaking above the gutters of the garage. Our fussy neighbor delighted in calling the city, citing a piece of arcane legislation, and demanded the shrubbery be cut back.
As Tolkien said, fences don’t keep out the world, or even nosey neighbors. We now have a much more boring view along that fenceline. Pruning the shrub caused the leaves to drop sooner than they normally would; they didn’t change color, they just fled the scene. Fences are an illusion, you see. We think we’re protected, that we can create a barrier against the people who bother us. No, while fences protect small children and dogs, all they do for some people is provide a place to pee, figuratively if not literally. Perhaps we should talk about electrifying that fence.