To the editor:
Robert Frost’s neighbor had it all wrong. In Frost’s iconic poem, “Mending Walls” he describes the annual reconstruction of the stone wall fence …
To the editor:
Robert Frost’s neighbor had it all wrong. In Frost’s iconic poem, “Mending Walls” he describes the annual reconstruction of the stone wall fence that lies between his yard and that of his neighbor’s. As he engages in the yearly ritual, Frost gives thought, through his poem, to the possibility that there is “something” to be questioned about the practice of maintaining a divide that does not seem to want to hold up. As Frost lifts the stones back into place, he quietly questions his neighbor’s statement: “Good fences make good neighbors.”
Recently, after moving full time to the hamlet of Callicoon and beginning a new job, I came down with a rather serious case of Covid. No worries here. My neighbor on one side, Yvonne, showed up with medicine and soup. My other neighbor, “Aunt” Betty, checked in – almost hourly! – and encouraged me to get to the emergency room when it was time for medical intervention. My neighbor, Marion, nurse extraordinaire, arrived at my door with compassion and Covid tests. Within a week’s time, under the careful watch of my neighbors, I was on the road to recovery.
As I look across the yards that meet my own, I am acutely aware there are no fences among us. On any given day, “Aunt” Betty crosses the yard with toys and gifts for my two cats, Louis and Ophelia. Each day, deer cross our yards to greet her in wait of treats. Marion’s would-be ferocious feline, Finn, struts across our yards in his daily hunt of prey, and the cats and I watch from our window with interest and amusement to see if today will be the day he can claim victory. Yvonne’s sweet-natured German Shepherd, Daisy, protects our yards as if they are her own domain. Hugs and petting reassure her that all is safe and well.
Somewhere, buried beneath broken tree limbs and last season’s leaves, metal stakes are hammered into the ground. The pieces of metal indicate where one person’s yard ends and another begins. Forces of nature have covered them. Come Spring, we will not unearth the evidence of our property lines. We will meet outside, laugh, eat, and drink in the joy of the beauty of where we live and our good fortune of being neighbors. Frost was right: “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall.” Whether it be the nature of the elements or nature of man, when the wall comes down, when the fences are deconstructed, friendships emerge. Humanity thrives. And we can take comfort in knowing we are not alone in this world.
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