Sometimes when sifting through older photos, drawings, and even crafts created as a child my mind drifts into memories they reflect.
I grew up in a small town in Colorado and my best friend’s family lived in the country. There we would climb split rail fences in favor of whatever was on the other side. Since then I’ve spent significant time at horse barns and often need to fit between or over wooden boards. To get to research sites for a wildlife research project in college my classmates and I had to navigate more than one barbed wire fence (a good way to break in a pair of jeans).
Fences are the epitome of simplicity. A few horizontal lines and the occasional vertical line. A young child can draw them. They make for good photographic contrast. The simplicity of the geometry echoes of a romantic country lifestyle. Fences are fun to climb on, get a new outlook on familiar land and, in a more imaginative scenario, an escape from danger. Not to mention humans tend to favor divisions such as claiming the giant box between a certain four fences as only theirs. Privacy on one side and exploration on the other.
Fences also share the land owner’s story. This woman chose old tanks to individualize the fence. Practical. Much like a friend who grew up taking discarded couches on the side of the road and then set them in the pasture as a jump. Tacky, but it worked.
Fences symbolize the countryside. They provide—preferably—a safe enclosure for domestic animals, add a decorative touch to a property, and establish borders between someone’s land and no one’s land or everyone’s land depending on your philosophical leanings.