Good Fences Make Good Fences

Tuesday, 17 November 2009, 15:31 | Category : Poetry
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Mending Wall
(Photo courtesy the Image Gallery of the American and New England Studies program of the University of Southern Maine.)

Once again today I heard a radio commentator repeat “Robert Frost’s good advice”, that “good fences make good neighbors”. And I wonder, has anyone who repeats that phrase ever actually read the poem? (The poem, by the way, is “Mending Wall“)

“Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again…”

Frost goes on to talk about his how his neighbor insists on repairing the wall, while Frost is questioning why the wall needs to exist at all:

“He is all pine and I am apple-orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, “Good fences make good neighbors.”
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
“Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence..”

But his neighbor is trapped in the self-necessity of the wall:

“Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down!” I could say “Elves” to him,
But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather
He said it for himself. I see him there,
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father’s saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, “Good fences make good neighbors.””

This is why we still need to teach literature in high school!

November Rose

Monday, 16 November 2009, 10:11 | Category : Gardening
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I have roses. I’m not much of a rose gardener. I go to a certain degree of effort, pruning at roughly the right times, trying to build the soil up, even on rare occasions fertilizing. But mostly, my roses have to survive the way most of my flowers survive – by being tough enough to make it despite my laissez-faire gardening style. Like many things in Mississippi gardens, July and August are tough times for my roses, although they do seem to handle the heat better than many plants. But fall, especially late fall, always brings a flush of new blooms, reminding me that I really should take better care of my rose beds. This weekend, my Chicago Peace had several beautiful blooms, and I just couldn’t pass them by without getting at least one photo….

Chicago Peace rose

Birds On The Water

Thursday, 5 November 2009, 7:21 | Category : Birds, Mississippi, Nature
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I went to a different stretch of beach late this afternoon, an area where I’ve been seeing lots of birds. On and around the remains of a couple of piers ruined by Katrina, I found a large group of pelicans, seagulls, sandpipers. Pelicans, it would seem, are as serene as gulls are raucous. The pelicans were content to bask in the late afternoon sun…


This group looked like they were intensely pondering whatever it is pelicans ponder…


Meanwhile, the gulls appeared to be loud for the sake of being loud, constantly moving and rearranging themselves…

Incoming gull

Standing room only!


No perch unperched!

But in the end, they all get together and figure it out…

Sunset On The Gulf

Tuesday, 3 November 2009, 21:52 | Category : Mississippi, Photography, Walks
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I’ve been on the Mississippi coast last week and again this week for training.  This evening as the sun was setting I decided to walk along the beach, taking my camera along.  This was my first shot:

(Click on the pictures to see the original size)

Sunset on the Gulf of Mexico

Then I noticed a lone pelican skimming the water. I wasn’t sure if there was enough light to get anything, but I tried anyway, and I’m pleased with the result:

Pelican at sunset

And finally, as the light faded even more, I took this last picture, looking west over the port facilities at Gulfport:

Sunset, Gulfport, MS

I had tried to avoid getting the port structures in other pictures, but I think I really like the silhouettes against the red sky. Then I took pelican picture and played with it in Paintshop Pro…