Back-breaking, bruise causing, curse inducing work, fence mending is not for the faint- hearted. After last year’s record rainfall, our dog-containing fence leaned precariously with rotting posts and had even provoked a neighbor to send a “did you know your fence is falling down” email.
Clearly exaggerating. Our fence wasn’t falling down.The trees were holding it up. So there.
Roland recently visited the fence company that had originally installed our fence 10 years ago to purchase supplies. New posts, slats and crossbars leaned on the wall by our garage, ready to be put into place. He had gone to the tool rental place and procured an auger to ease the redigging of the post holes. All we had to do was dismantle the fence, remove the rotting posts, save the sections of fence that were still usable, and put it all back together again. Easy.
With two main sections needing repair, we decided to tackle the part where our dogs and a neighbor dog met to say hello; also known as barking incessantly at each other and leaping at the fence. This part did not have trees propping it up, but only a board strategically wedged between ground and fence. Roland dismantled. Easy enough. Then he plopped in the auger, and after an hour and a trip back to the rental store to figure out how to turn it on, the thing was spinning. And spinning. At which point we discovered something we did not want to see. Concrete.
Yep, the old posts, professionally installed all those years ago, were set in concrete. Breaking for lunch, we assessed the situation, brainstorming for a solution.
Did you know that you can rent a jackhammer? I don’t think it’s the kind road crews use to break up an old road, but nevertheless, this thing does the job. It does weigh about 70 pounds and once you have hammered down into the hole, you must heave it out to pull out the concrete bits. Roland had no choice but to muscle up and give it all he had.
As we worked, it occurred to me that the metaphorical mending of fences, i.e., repairing a relationship, is no different from the literal. Well, maybe a little different, as I would hope that one does not get physically injured when repairing a relationship. If that’s the case, then perhaps one should be burning bridges instead.
According to the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, this phrase originated from a mid-17th century proverb, “good fences make good neighbors”. The idea that a fence separates rather than brings together does not immediately make sense when it comes to repairing the “fences” of a relationship. Yet, people do need to have personal boundaries even within a loving, committed relationship, and when the boundaries are not working, chances are the relationship isn’t either.
The hard work of relationship rebuilding often reveals hard problems lurking beneath the surface that must be dealt with and that may take a heavy duty tool to reduce them to dust. Relationship repair also requires cooperation, compromise, give and take, and even time apart to regroup. It takes defining boundaries. New ideas on how things will work may be needed, as well as agreements on whether or not failure is an option. Since we had three dogs to contain, and one biting dog to keep out (Roland was bitten when the owner brought the dog out to meet us), our literal fence mending could not be abandoned when it turned out to be difficult. Failure was not an option for us.
Finally, there is no shame in calling in a third party to help untangle the mess your relationship with your spouse, family member or friend has become.
All told, Roland, and I spent about 10 hours over 2 days attempting this home fix-it job. Bruised, bloodied, and bitten, we sat back and admired our handiwork. And without another thought, decided to let professionals repair the rest of the damn thing.