Sunday, September 29, 2013

Mending Walls

Weather: Freezing temperatures before dawn; morning will tell; last rain 9/18/2013; 11:49 hours of daylight today.

What’s blooming in the area: Hybrid roses, silver lace vine, Russian sage, daturas, zinnias and African marigolds from seed, alfalfa.

Beyond the walls and fences: Apache plume, sweet peas, leather-leafed globe mallow, yellow evening primrose, Russian thistle, pigweed, ragweed, chamisa, snakeweed, Hopi tea, Tahoka daisy, gumweed, horseweed, broom senecio, native sunflowers peaked, áñil del muerto, golden hairy, heath and purple asters.

In my yard, looking east: Winecup mallow, Maximilian sunflowers peaked.

Looking south: Rugosa and miniature roses.

Looking west: David phlox peaked, catmint, calamintha, bachelor buttons from seed.

Looking north: Chocolate flowers, blanket flowers, anthemis, chrysanthemums, dahlias.

In the open, along the drive: Fern bush, hollyhock tips, some California poppies, Heavenly blue morning glories, black-eyed Susan, lance-leaf coreopsis, few Mexican hats, Sensation and yellow cosmos.

Bedding plants: Snapdragons, sweet alyssum.

What’s blooming inside: Zonal geraniums, aptenia.

Animal sightings: Large and small black ants.

Weekly update: Robert Frost began one of his most famous poems, "Something there is that doesn't love a wall." He was referring to depredations made by hunters and Nature. Today, one must add, people who can’t drive.

If you live on a corner, you learn the routine. The engine too loud.  Moving gravel, wire scratching metal. Looking out to make sure no one’s hurt. Usually, the car’s gone, leaving you the mess.

In 1914, the solution was simple. Men remembered how to pile stones to repair a wall, knew they "have to use a spell to make them balance."

Knowledge has been lost. Something must be done to fill the breach.

Even if you built the wall yourself, you brought the materials from elsewhere. Can more be found?

If you hired someone, the answer to "Can the builder be found?" is "Not likely." It’s almost impossible to hire someone to do repairs.

For Frost, repairs fell into the natural cycle. At "spring mending-time," he and his neighbor "meet to walk the line." If you live near a corner, effort is more random.

One man near the village repaired his wall a few years ago.

This summer, someone new missed the turn.

It took six weeks, but he rebuilt, and left a barrier to slow down the next.

Others, make repairs, then install bigger, stronger bumpers.

Frost was puzzled by the need for fences. He thought,

     He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
     My apple trees will never get across
     And eat the cones under his pines

But the neighbor only answered, "Good fences make good neighbors."

The older man knew something Frost hadn’t learned.

Down the road, a small wooden house near a narrows in the road had a cedar board fence 23 pickets wide, or about eleven feet, from the living area.

A few years ago, a car broke through, stopping just short of the house. The tenants gave notice. The owner erected a low lava stone wall at the roadside, then added palings for privacy.

Automobiles do not make good neighbors. And neither do the uneasy spirits left behind.

Frost may dismiss his neighbor as one who

     knows the darkness as it seems to me~
     Not of woods only and the shade of trees.

But darkness exists. ‘Tis better to repair than give in.

Notes: Robert Frost, "Mending Wall" in North of Boston (1914)

1. Cement block wall, 7 August 2011.

2. Adobe wall, 13 January 2012.

3. Barbed wire fence downed by a vehicle, 11 January 2102.

4. After someone drove through the adobe wall, the owner was out with a tractor grinding down the dirt. Then he installed farm gates, 30 January 2012. A year later, the property’s for sale.

5. The cement wall from #1 was repaired after someone drove through it, 17 January 2010.

6. A wooden fence has been replaced with heavy wire mesh, 11 January 2012.

7. Repairs in a cement block wall are marked by differences in paint colors, 18 January 2012.

8. Recently, someone broke through it again, 25 July 2013.

9. The man repaired it, and again paint reveals the scars. He left some remains near the corner as a barrier. 12 September 2013.

10. Down the road, men repaired a mesh fence, and added bigger protective bumper posts, 12 September 2013.

11. Cedar board fence near the house, where a car drove through, 11 January 2012.

12. Replacement lava stone wall, 7 June 2012. The Armco barrier at the arroyo is new.

13. Lava stone wall that was driven through, and repaired. Relatives of the drivers maintain two shrines, 12 September 2013, as carefully as Frost’s neighbor maintained his fence.

14. Sometimes, like Frost, people simply abandon the effort. The cement block wall in #1 was hit again, and this time the hole remains years later, 17 July 2011.

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