In Robert Frost’s poem “Mending Wall,” his neighbor insists that “good fences make good neighbors.”
Many of us like our boundaries, and a fence is a way to clearly communicate a do-not-cross zone. (We put up our fence a few years ago after I saw one man chasing another with a pistol.) A fence can also keep animals and children corralled as well as offer privacy. But like the fence in “Mending Wall,” they need to be repaired from time to time.
Our neighbor out at the land asked if we could trim or remove the Bradford Pears growing between our driveway and his fence. Limbs were growing over into his yard, and the trees were preventing him from making repairs.
We showed up one morning with that singular purpose: to cut them down. As can be said about most of our work days, we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into.
What at first appeared to be four or five substantial trees growing along our neighbor’s fence line turned out to be 50-60 smaller trees growing in clumps, ready to scourge.
Generously, our neighbors and their kids came out to help. We used the clippers on smaller trees, Chuck chainsawed the larger ones, and we hauled them to the open field, making a brush pile. The sun wasn’t too hot, and after less than five hours we’d taken them all out.
Granted, the brush pile was a little more scattered than we had hoped, but several were simply too heavy to lift and heave on top. The pile is spread out rather than tall, but we plan to trim it up before burning it.
The job isn’t finished, however: all of the little stumps have to go. Otherwise, they’ll just re-sprout from the roots. We’ve bought a mattock to help with that, but it’s all easier said than done.
Our neighbors plan to plant a row of lovely Japanese maples in their place. Good fences make good neighbors, and so do shared tastes.