I notice fences are making a big comeback, whether because of some wish to wall out the messy world or just simple aesthetics - a structural analog to eyeliner, maybe, that calls attention to the shape by marking the border.
But the classic white picket fence, the wrought-iron fence, the sturdy stockade fence so like a row of popsicle sticks bound together in a primary school art project: Everywhere I look I see them going up.
Everywhere but in my yard, anyway.
I'd rather sell my house than put a fence around it.
Because, what would I do without all those lovely trespassers?
Like the many teens who came to lounge grandly on our grass when our babies were small. We live on a corner, and I guess our side-yard just felt like public space to them, because there they'd be when I looked out the window, their bikes slung down in a tangle of wheels beside their reclining forms.
I stepped outside once and they scrambled to their feet at the sight of this stranger, another anonymous grownup with an infant on the hip and a burp-cloth at the shoulder.
"No need to leave!" I had called out to them then. "Sit in our yard! Always come and sit in our yard," I had shouted, perplexing them maybe, but giving voice to my belief that it is a blessing to you indeed when young people alight, even briefly, in your vicinity.
Alight they did, this group and that. And when our babies grew old enough to have a swingset, they still came and sat on the swings on warm evenings, and talked the earnest private talk of early love. And when our own kids grew older, there were young people of every age out there, known to us and not, who twirled slowly on those old swings and lowered thoughtful stalactites of spit onto the bald patches in the grass made by their large sneakered feet.
And teens have not been our only trespassers.
Many a September I have looked down from the window-seat in my upstairs study to see matrons and dog walkers, couples and solitary gents, stealthily reaching up to pluck blossoms from our tall hydrangea trees.
"Take more!" I called down to someone I saw doing this once, but she rushed off embarrassed, and so now I keep silent.
Twenty years ago, we spent maybe $50 on two Dwarf Japanese Maples, which we planted on either of the back yard's two boundaries. While one soon died, the battered victim of a thousand whiffleball games, the other flourished, and today though just waist-high still, it stretches eight feet across and makes beneath its parasol of leaves a dandy hiding place for felines.
Last week a landscaping professional came by and pointed to it. "That little tree?" he said. "Today that tree would cost you $10,000." The same little tree that just last night was revealed to be harboring under its flouncy skirts four small boys under seven, all crouching, all heavily armed with plastic weaponry and lying in wait.
"What's shakin', fellas?" I asked when I stepped outside and saw the tree shudder and yield them up.
"We're waiting for the others to come back out; we're gonna damage them!" cried the eldest, these "others" being three little females now dining delicately in their homes.
I didn't forbid them their hiding place under our fancy tree. I couldn't bear to.
Say they do wreck the pricey little dwarf: Wouldn't we just plant another in this fenceless yard of ours and feel lucky at that, for even one more year to sit by our windows and witness all that growth?
Write Terry at email@example.com