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Sunday, January 14, 2018


Robert Frost's wall at his farm in Derry, New Hampshire. 
His famous poem "Mending Wall" was published in 1914.
After 30 years the cedar fence around our city house gave way after being the main course for colonies and generations of termites.  To rebuild, we gathered our neighbors to brainstorm, share the cost and seek a fence builder.

The contractor we chose was a creative sort but turned out to be a woeful businessman.  He underbid the project then demanded more money from us because of his lack of fiscal management. 

Four months later, the project is half completed.  He refuses to continue until he gets more money.  We reply we’ve paid 75% for a job that is halfway finished.  No more cash outlay until the project completed.
Impasse exists.  Lawyers are rubbing their hands in anticipation.

Meanwhile, the troops are wintering.

Until it is resolved, I take some comfort in Robert Frost’s poem “Mending Wall.”

Why did we need a fence in the first place?  We all get along famously.

One neighbor replied that even in the best of times, “Good fences make good neighbors.”

Plus, there’s the security of a solid fence, a necessity these days for urban dwellers.  It keeps the human mice at bay or so we think.

Meanwhile, Miss Haversham’s house described by Charles Dickens in “Great Expectations,” makes her abode a palace compared to the trench warfare we’re enduring at present.

Enjoy once again the stable genius of Robert Frost:

Mending Wall
By Robert Frost from the public domain.

Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbour know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
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 neighbours."
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
"Why do they make good neighbours? Isn't it
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That wants it down." I could say "Elves" to him,
But it's not elves exactly, and I'd rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father's saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well.
He says again, "Good fences make good neighbours."

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