In the 1914 poem “Mending Wall,” the great American poet Robert Frost wrote, “Good fences make good neighbors.”
There’s a lot of truth in that statement. Although the phrase didn’t originate with the poet, he did make it famous. “Mending Wall” is said to be one of the most anthologized and analyzed poems in modern literature. Many languages throughout the world have some version of this phrase.
My husband and I enjoy living in a charming and quaint neighborhood because we, in fact, have good fences. I don’t mean the wooden ones in everyone’s backyards, but the boundaries of mutual respect we’ve established.
Our North Texas neighborhood is the largest collection of Tudor homes in the Southwest. However, where the brick and the sharp roof pitches are typical of England’s Tudor style, our homes are on postage-stamp sized lots rather than the bucolic countryside.
Although our homes are close together, that’s part of the charm. As our neighbors stroll with their children or take their dogs for a walk, everyone share’s a nod, a smile or kind word. We know them–if not by name, by sight. We delight in the care and attention everyone gives their tree-shaded front yards.
Our front porch isn’t only a great UPS and FED Ex depository, it’s an outdoor living space. My husband and I often sit there and read the newspaper, while enjoying our morning coffee and tea. Because our yard is small, we can call out a “Good Morning” to passing neighbors, and be rewarded with their smiles.
We’re fortunate to have a number of children on our block. Each holiday, I make some kind of treat for them. Who doesn’t love surprises?
Our two black Labradors, Miss Lizzie and Mr. Darcy, also have lots of friends in our neighborhood. At Christmas, we put their buddies’ treat bags in a red wagon and set out on our deliveries. The joy in the pups’ faces as they’re praised by our neighbors is so cute.
However, with our small houses and equally small yards we understand how important it is to respect each other’s space. And, that it’s essential to maintain that level of consideration. Neighborhood happiness is found through harmony not discourse.
Welcoming new neighbors is a great way to start what can be a life-long relationship. A simple bunch of flowers, a plant or some baked goods can be a lovely introduction to your block. Invite them to join the homeowner’s association and crime watch, or perhaps your book club or Mother’s Day Out. Not only will they become involved in the neighborhood, but we all benefit when we communicate and work together.
Friendship, kindness and sensitivity can go a long way to easing the inevitable minor irritations and maintaining our lovely neighborhood environment.
Politeness is free–and priceless.
Good fences really do make good neighbors.