Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

On The Fence

“Don't ever take a fence down until you know why it was put up.”
-Robert Frost

Last year Mater transformed a green patch of garden to a space that could hold some parked cars. It was quite necessary due to the ever-increasing difficulty of getting the car in and out of the yard, considering that the adjacent road nowadays hosts so many delirious and speedy drivers.
The driveway had previously been dangerously narrow, and as such all incoming cars were forced to reverse in from the road so that they might point the right way for a safe exit- highly troublesome on such a stretch.
I heard from Mater yesterday that a fellow in a truck had come by to pave the driveway with more slabs of stone; over the course of some months the stones had gradually sunk and settled and it was time to add another layer.
Alas, she said, he had not understood his job very well and had poured all the stones on top of the wooden fence, flattening it completely, obscuring it from sight.
I was outraged on Mater's behalf.
"What did you do?" I was very curious because I could hardly imagine Mater expressing her vexation.
"Oh," she brushed it away, "I didn't say anything. The fence was old anyway. It needed repairing."
I was stunned into silence for a long moment. When I found my voice I struggled to keep it in measured tones. I explained to my mother that the driver of the truck had no knowledge of the fence's quality- or lack thereof- nor of its advanced years, nor Mater's attitude toward it. Which is to say that the fence, for all its weathered faults, was of no concern to him in performing his task.
Mater is rather a laid-back and undemanding individual at the best of times; I can hardly deny that she knows how to satiate her need for personal justice but more often than not she happily lets go of things I would prefer to pummel into the ground. How we differ!
As for the fellow who toppled the fence, I cannot say for certain what thoughts struck his mind as he poured the material and observed the wood splintering under the weight of the sudden burden- perhaps he was mildly surprised- but I suggest he was most astonished to get away without so much as a curt or crusty word from Mater.


Beth said...

This is sad--did he ever put the stones where they were supposed to go or did your mother have to go out and fix her driveway herself? Did he apologize or anything? I'm a lot like your mother and hate conflict and usually think of some reason why an error that affects me can be excused, but like you I am outraged for others.

Pappy said...

I like that terminology Ele. ...without a curt or crusty word from Mater. Some people don't even bother to look before blindly following an order. Perhaps she could use the stone for a new fence. I'm afraid I am on the other end of the Moh's scale of hardness. Carborundum. Is the shillelagh no longer available in Ireland? Might not cure him, but he would probably get out and see if anyone had one in hand before dumping his next load of stone. Pappy

Barb said...

This story displays just how careless and rude (in general) people have become.

When did we stop holding doors for each other, saying thank you, offering a helping hand and not dumping stones of ones's mothers' fence?

I'm appalled and most probably would have reacted the same way you felt. I wonder had the tables been turned how he would have reacted had the stones been dumped upon his fence. B

tangobaby said...

Or perhaps that Mater has learned in her years what she feels she should get upset about, and what she can let slide.

I think it's wonderful that she was understanding, and that driver was very lucky that she was.

polona said...

ah, humans!
i admire your mother for reacting so stoically... but perhaps she knows something we don't...

Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

Beth, he did fix it up in the end- I should have added that but for me his undoing was tumbling the stones on top of the fence and I couldn't think beyond it- even to conclude the story! But thankfully it all turned out okay.

Texican, yes, I would at least look. It's like walking across the road even when the light is green- you still need to check for people coming at you because not everybody pays attention to the lights. This fellow didn't even look, which baffled me.
"Is the shillelagh no longer available in Ireland?" Oh, I laughed at that.
I think Mater's recently pictured neighbour has a shillelagh, or he should do. If he'd seen the fence come down he'd have given the fellow some grief.

Barb, yes, if he'd only looked... mistakes happen but I don't know how he couldn't see the fence except that as you say, he was careless and didn't think at all.

Tangobaby, good thought- from where I was sitting, I was furious that he did what he did to the fence, but also that her excuse for letting it go had nothing to do with why he broke it- but you're right. She was understanding, and there aren't enough people like that, whatever I feel about the fence-fellow.

Polona, it could be, maybe she does- she's very amiable though, so always able to let go of such things. I like your sigh of "humans..." :)

hele said...

I also feel sad for the fence.

Florian's mother had someone come around to look at bees and advice us on creating hives. While discussions were going on his accomplice went ahead and gassed all the existing bees after which he told us it would have been too much effort moving our bees and for this amount of money he would provide hives already stocked with bees. I still feel really angry every time I think about it.

And he too was not tarred and feathered, he even got paid.

Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

Hele, that's a dreadful thing to have happened. How awful. I can't understand how or why anybody would first of all want to do that to bees as if they were nothing, and secondly do it without your consent (as if you would give it?) In hindsight, all Mater lost is a fence.
I can't imagine how that must have made you feel. How sad and horrible.

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