Our subdivision used to be farmland. I have a copy of an early 20th-century parcels map, and if I squint hard enough, I can almost make out the owner’s name. The last owner used the land as horse pasture, and she still lives in her Minimal Traditional farmhouse at the north end of the development. An artist and her husband live two houses up from us, and they were the very first residents of this subdivision. They were vintners before they relocated, and she told me she wanted to be able to see and touch her neighbors. She can just about do that: we are all about 6 feet from each other — and that might be a generous estimate.
One year on, we also have fences, some more obnoxious than others. Fences define, separate, protect, tantalize. The “best” sort veils the house, giving the curious a carefully calibrated glimpse of the house and the property in much the same way as a half-drawn curtain at a window. And of course, the inhabitants, for their part, get a properly filtered view of the world. A small tour of the fences in our neighborhood:
This house is on a corner, and they do have a toddler and a yappy dog, so perhaps all good reasons for a solid fence.
Open metal fencing that matches the balcony railing. The renters do not have a dog, but the Wyoming owners do. Someday we may even meet them (the owners, that is).
The split-personality fence: the rustic post-and-rail fencing matches those along the bike trail, but the solid wood fencing along the front is an odd choice.
The Moat Fence (not quite finished), because this house is The Fort and it guards the entrance from the bike path into the subdivision. This is the biggest house in the subdivision, and is on the biggest lot. The owners, being friends of the developer, did not have to follow any of the standard house plans. Apparently they also did not have to follow any HOA guidelines — not that there are any right now, but even if there were, they would not have had to follow them. They are that special. The Moat shields the owners from prying hoi polloi eyes, but only partially. I guess if they had actually completed the perimeter fence, they would lose the view that originally prompted them to build on this piece of land.
And the award for the most practical fence goes to The Shed Fence. One dog, one child, and apparently Many Belongings requiring more space than provided by 4 bedrooms and a basement. The mellow HOA didn’t know anything about this one either. The neighbors’ view from the other side:
I really think we need clotheslines.