05 September 2012

Something there is that doesn't love a wall

Central to the nature of gardens is enclosure. This enclosure may be achieved with wall, fence, or hedges formal and informal, but the enclosure must be. The very word garden comes from a Proto Indo-European root that means wall or fence.

The grounds at Belfry HQ were never particularly well-enclosed. When we bought the property, a split-rail fence ran across the front of the yard and partway down one side. I attempted to close up unfenced sides with informal hedges, but shrubs grow slowly and the sense of enclosure was far from complete.

Earlier this year I gave up fighting with the split-rail fence. It was a losing battle, not only because split-rail fences are high maintenance, but also because I have a neighbour who runs a day care centre out of her home.

What has my neighbour's business to do with my fence, you ask? Two things. First, because the play area is in her driveway, she does not park there, but keeps her car in front of my house. Second, the parents of the children in her day care also park in front of my house when delivering or collecting their offspring. Car doors and persons large and small bumped into my fence on a daily basis. The rails spent more time on the ground than fitted into the posts.

This was tiresome, as were the large and small people stepping over the fallen rails and into what I would like to be a border of shrubs and perennials but is not, due to repeated abuse from car doors and feet.

Therefore we began the process of replacing the fence. We spoke with contractors, got quotes, made choices, filled out forms, and signed contracts. (It is perhaps fortunate for the neighbour and her clientele that neither electrification nor concertina wire were available options).

One subplot in the Story of the Fence (the Phractexiad?) involved the Cape Despair Amelioration Association and the forms that must be submitted to the building committee thereof whenever one wishes to, well, build something on one's property.

The neighbourhood covenants in Cape Despair are quite reasonable and it is not usually a problem for fences to be approved. However, the plot twist involved the paperwork disappearing, and what should have been a two-week process turned into a six-week process.

A second subplot centred around the necessary call to Miss Utility and marking of the lines. Most of the utility lines around our property were in fact marked, but one company -- our cable company, specifically -- returned an 'all clear, no underground lines to mark.' Predictably, when the day came, the workmen putting in the fence cut the single cable that delivers television, telephone service, and the internet to Belfry HQ.

This was vexing enough, but poor communication from the cable company about when they'd fix it did not improve the situation. When the fourth (and smarmiest) 'customer service representative' suggested to me that perhaps we should have had the lines marked before starting to dig, I lost my temper.

I am not sure that this helped get the cable spliced any faster (though I am not sure it hurt), but it was cathartic. It also startled the Viking, who believes that I am usually too soft on customer service reps, and who was aghast at his sweet little wife's capacity for vituperation when provoked. And I didn't even use any bad words!

The Garðrsaga (hey, there's that PIE root again) does have a happy ending: our internet connection was restored, we got our fence, and shrubs, perennials, and dogs should be protected in the future.


Robert Frost

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