Just A Fence

Photo Credit: Canadian Stories
Just a fence. No matter how you look at it, thatís all it is Ė just a fence. Nothing unusual. Three tiers of boards secured to four-inch square wooden posts. Itís a long fence, stretching nearly as far as the eye can see and it looks pretty straight but the unevenness of the ground kind of gives it a roller coaster look. Itís decorated with small white patches of snow that was blown against it by a high wind and a soft blanket surrounds the bottom of the posts. It actually looks quite inviting, as if it belongs there in some way.

Someone obviously worked very hard to get all those posts in place. Were they driven into the ground the old-fashioned way, with an iron sledge hammer? Or were they cemented in? And imagine all the long, tiresome hours it must have taken to attach all those boards with either nails or screws. And then thereís the paint. No doubt it took many hours to paint such a long fence, on both sides, plus all the posts. Thereís no denying that the project took dedication and perseverance but stillÖ itís just a regular old wooden fence.

It was surely erected for a reason Ė but what? Is it keeping something in or keeping something out? Maybe it protects a large hay field, so the grass wonít get trampled and destroyed before it can be cut and turned into hay for feeding livestock during the winter. Perhaps it surrounds a pasture, preventing livestock from wandering off while at the same time, keeping larger wildlife outside. Or it could be cropland where some vegetable or grain is grown commercially. Is it a place where firewood is grown, cut and maybe sold? Maybe itís a tree nursery Ė or even a Christmas tree farm.

The farmer, whose house is just beyond the trees, sometimes strolls along the fence-line, surveying his property and checking for needed repairs. Young lovers know itís a place where they can be alone, just out of sight of watchful adults. They walk alongside the fence, hand in hand, talking quietly and pausing every now and then to hug or steal a kiss.

All ordinary things Ė but maybe something extraordinary happens here when long nights are dark and quiet. Itís easy to visualize small critters using the area as a sort of playground but leaving no visible signs of their clandestine activities. A bunch of hyper squirrels and chipmunks might be running back and forth along the gently undulating fence top as if it was a race track. A family of rabbits could be hopping merrily in and out around the posts and between the lower boards. Perhaps the gentle whisper of an owlís powerful wings breaks the silence, or an occasional low-pitched hoot. No one knows what happens during those hours when nobody is watching.

So what purpose does such a long rambling fence serve? In the end, whatever the reason for its existence, it is after allÖ just a fence.

© 2017, Fay Herridge
Published in Canadian Stories, Jun/Jul 2017 (90th Photo Story Contest)


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