Storytime with Beth: Short Fences and Good Neighbors

Matt and his dad are quite different.  Yet in a lot of ways they are exactly the same, too.  I realize this is a direct contradiction, but it is true nevertheless.  Despite differences of preference and lifestyle, the apple sure didn't fall far from the tree there.  I love that.
A sunset from the bike path near our house.  8/10/2020
Last year we made the majority of our get-togethers with Matt's parents outdoor affairs, for pandemic safety reasons.  Not that the virus is the only reason to chillax out of doors, obviously.  Roger and Sharon also have a rather wonderful patio/yard so it is always a nice place to hang.  It was during one of these visits that that the good neighbors-short fences story came up.
Backyard snowman fun with Matt and Eli. The fence in the background is the one that separates Pam and Jack's yard from ours.  10/17/2020 
Our Short Fences-Good Neighbors Story:

Matt was telling his parents about how much we enjoy Pam-and-Jack from next door and how glad we were that another year had gone by without them replacing the waist-high fence between our properties with something taller.  We dig chatting with them over the fence about this and that.  They enjoy Ginger's visits.  We swoon over Pam's magnificent flowers.  They have a beautiful backyard oasis of blooms and greens.  They swoon over our vegetable patch.  They're nice people.  We're lucky to have them as neighbors.  They seem to feel the same way about us.  Nowadays Jack is of the mind that I should run for city council since I did so well with my neighborhood organizing.

About four or five years ago Pam and Jack started having trouble with the neighbor on the other side of their house, which prompted a new fence project.  They wanted a six foot tall privacy fence to shield them from the noise and disarray going on next door instead of the short chain-link.  Jack gave us a heads up about it.  Pam generously encouraged her rose and clematis to start growing on our side of the fence rather than woven through the fence.  She hoped I might be able to salvage them despite the trauma of the fencing project, since she knows how much I love those flowers.  Pam was the first one to put clematis on my radar.  We subsequently planted one in the front yard, too.

Matt and I expressed how much we would miss the over-the-fence talks...and then...the fence never went up on our side that summer.  It went up on the other side of their yard, but not ours.  We figured it would come the next year.  Jack even mentioned something about it....and once again we told him how much we'd miss the backyard chats.  Jack agreed.  And then the fence never went up that summer either.  

At this point we feel like they've decided against it, though we haven't asked specifically.  I think Pam and Jack would have missed us, too, and realized they didn't need to box in their whole backyard...just the problematic side.  
Ginger Kitty, Produce Inspector!  8/19/2020
My In-Laws' Short Fences-Good Neighbors Story:

As we concluded telling our story, Roger went on to say they'd had nearly the same experience decades earlier with their own set of good neighbors, Bill-and-Evelyn.  Bill has passed away now, but Evelyn still lives next door.  

Bill told my in-laws that he and Evelyn were going to upgrade their fence to a tall, vinyl privacy one.  He asked Roger about the shared section of fence between their adjoining backyards, saying it would be cheaper if they went in on an upgrade together, if Roger and Sharon were interested in the idea.

Roger declined, saying that not only was the the current fence perfectly sufficient for them, he and Sharon would miss getting to talk with Bill and Evelyn over the back fence.  They liked the open neighborliness of the short fence between them.  

Bill and Evelyn agreed.  They didn't replace that one section of fence, though they did proceed with the rest of their fence project.  As Roger was telling us this story, the birds flitted from Evelyn's trees to my in-laws' bird feeders unimpeded.  
 Playing in the backyard.  It's crazy that this photo and the snowman photo were taken just ten days apart. 10/10/2020
I find the similarities heartwarming.  Huzzah for good neighbors!  Huzzah for short fences AND good neighbors!  This is a beautiful thing.


  1. Hi Beth,'s so nice that you have good neighbors...we live out in the country now...and don't really have any close neighbors...the Church is right across the street though...haha...but when we lived in West next door neighbor and her next door neighbor were my very best friends...and it was so nice to walk our dogs together in the neighborhood or just chat when we both happened to be outside...
    ~Have a lovely day!

  2. Love the neighbour stories Beth, we too have a waist high fence in our front garden and it was so lovely to spend time with them in our respective gardens on VE Day anniversary last year. We hauled our garden table on the front drive, decked it with a red checked tablecloth, assorted crockery including a cheery red tea pot and enjoyed a home made cream tea- scones, butter, jam and cream 🙂

    You did a fab job with the very snowy trail and the hot tub at the end was well deserved. Thanks Matt for the pistachio trick, you’ve saved my fingernails 😀.

  3. Love your stories. Reminds of me Mending Wall, the poem by Robert Frost. Living in the city, we have lots of yards that abut ours and look into ours. It's mostly fine, although the house on the west side is an apartment building so we don't often get to know the people there before they move. We have also talked to our kids about not always chatting up the neighbors - sometimes people just want to go outside with just a wave and go about their business. Neighborliness is so important!!


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