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Friday Slide Show: Portrait of a Fence Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

15 March 2019

Good fences make good neighbors, so the proverb says. And thinking back over all the fences we have lived with does indeed bring back fond memories of the good neighbors we have been blessed to live near.

With rare exception, all of those fences were, at one time or another, rebuilt. You could say that's because we tend to stay put -- and fences don't. You wouldn't be wrong.

Our property is rimmed by three fences now, all of them already old when we moved in.

One was partially replaced after a storm blew it into our house just below the picture window responsible for all of our sunset photos. Another was reinforced last year. A third blew down this January during another storm.

Photographers are often accused of being story tellers. But we also take portraits. The difference is illuminating.

This week, thanks to a reference from the neighbor with whom we partially rebuilt the first fence and the help of the neighbor who shares the fence with us, we replaced the third fence.

It's very hard to find a contractor around here these days with so much work being done to rebuild homes lost in the Northern California fires. And after a severe storm, it isn't easy to find someone to call you back about a fence repair either.

But after a few forays fizzled with non-existent callbacks, a carpenter recommended by one neighbor came right out. He spoke only Chinese, though. We did study Chinese in college, getting afternoon lessons from our landlord who insisted to our continued astonishment we were not pronouncing anything correctly. But we're limited to a few phrases that were useful at the time (which we'll leave to your imagination).

Fortunately the neighbor who shares the fence speaks every dialect of the language and was happy to translate for us and supervise the construction. In a couple of days, the fence was replaced.

Photographers are often accused of being story tellers. But we also take portraits. The difference is illuminating.

The story of this fence would have been detailed images of each phase of the removal and rebuilding worthy of a YouTube or iFixIt video.

But this is a portrait of the fence. It morphs from the original when we made its acquaintance in 2003 with a Nikon 990 to our photos with an Olympus E-PL1 after the hit it took from a January storm to photos with a Canon Rebel XTi of the new fence.

It poses for us, as it once was, after it had been damaged, in its new boards. We see the rotted posts and the old boards giving way and then piled up. We see the shiny nails of the new construction that took their place.

But it is just a fence that has been repaired. With the help of good neighbors.

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