Good Fences Make … For Exhaustion
When we moved into our house, the property came with an aging wooden fence along one side of the backyard. It was dry, splintered and cracked, with missing pieces here and there, knotholes had become portholes, and the entire fence was in general need of serious renovation or replacement. Thirty-some-odd years, three different homeowners on the other side of the fence, five dogs of my own, at least another six dogs of the various neighbors, countless windstorms, a house fire and several earthquakes later, that same fence still stood between our yard and the neighbor’s. Over the years I had patched it with quickly installed 2-by-10s, plywood pieces, wire mesh and whatever else I could find as my dogs or the neighbor’s dogs chewed and scratched and tugged and dug and gnawed their way to “freedom” from one yard to another.
Our current neighbors have two very bored, very curious dogs who live night and day alongside this fence. They’ve had to use a veritable junkyard of debris to try to keep their animals in the yard, including old barbecue grills, patio furniture, siding, bricks, rocks, dirt, plastic panels, and other domestic detritus – all of which we could see through the fence.
This past weekend, the fence came down. Finally. My wife and I tore down the old fence and rebuilt it with brand new wood, galvanized posts, a gazillion deck screws and buckets of sweat.
Since our own manual laborers (aka: kids) are all either married or away at college, we hired the young son of a friend to help us with the project all day Saturday. He had never been exposed to fun “guy things” like power tools, post hole diggers, quick dry cement, sledge hammers, circular saws, pry bars, reciprocal saws – you know, cool tools that make loud noises and big messes. With each new tool I handed him, his eyes lit up. Maybe not like I was giving him an Xbox controller and a beta-version of Halo, but it was obvious that his guy genes were on high alert. After he became comfortable using each new tool, he would say, “Now when I watch the DIY Channel, I can say, ‘I’ve done that!’”
At the end of our long, dirty day on Saturday, I asked him how it felt to have learned how to build a fence. He leaned on a shovel handle and with tired eyes looked at the nearly completed fruits of our mutual labor. Then he smiled and said, “Well, now I can cross that off my bucket list.”
On Sunday, my wife (who can handle a drill motor with the best of ’em) and I finished the fence, cleaned up the debris and collapsed in a heap. Every muscle, every tendon, every joint in our bodies was sore and tired to the point of immobility. We had aches in places I didn’t know were places. Even my hair hurt.
Several days, many more hot showers and a half bottle of Advil later, it’s satisfying to now be able to stand back and look at our job well done. It’s so rewarding to see something strong and functional that wasn’t there only a week ago and that – barring unforeseen natural disasters or a stampeding herd of rogue elephants – is likely to be standing for many, many years.
Every morning this week so far, I’ve walked out into our backyard with my cup of coffee, just to have another look at the new fence. However, as I sip my dark roast and admire our handiwork, I try really hard not to look on the other side of the yard where another 100-foot-plus section of old fence still stands (more or less) and calls to me to rebuild it. Or more accurately, it calls to my wife and she interprets. Sigh.
Owning a home means never having to say, “What should we do this weekend?”
I’ll see you ’round town.