Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Our New Picket Fence

We live in Texas, where the wind blows almost ceaselessly and sometimes turns violent. Straight-line winds frequently rival tornadoes in their intensity, and fences around here usually die a catastrophic death before they succumb to old age.

Last year a particularly strong storm swept down our street and felled limbs and trees for half a mile. It even crumpled a giant electrical tower only a block from our house. We were lucky; the wind only knocked down one of our fences.

It turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

After the storm, my husband dragged the flattened fence to the curb. Lo and behold, we were surprised to see a transformation in our yard. We liked it even better than before! The old fence was boring and ugly, blocked our view and made one corner of our back yard a desolate dead-end. So instead of replacing our old fence with another just like it, we decided to do something old-fashioned, yet rather radical for our cookie-cutter neighborhood, which sadly is characterized more by nine-foot "privacy fences" than by wide open spaces.

We built a picket fence.

My engineer husband designed the fence, and all three kids helped us paint it, a la Tom Sawyer. Paint got everywhere, but they had fun. (This is not recommended for those with perfectionist tendencies.) The new fence is white, airy, and such an improvement.

When I was a girl, my great-grandparents lived in a little white house in a small town in California. I remember visiting their home and thinking it was the most adorable little house that ever was. It had a large porch with a place to visit, a giant hydrangea beside the porch, a rose garden along one side, a cool basement housing preserves, and a white picket fence with a little gate out front.

I loved visiting their house, and I always wanted a white picket fence of my own someday. Now I finally have one, and I love it! Its low profile opens up our yard so we can enjoy it more, it frames a pretty view, and it adds charm and personality to our red-brick home.

Picket fences have long been a symbol of Americana, and for good reason. Their quaint good looks dress up even the plainest front yard, and they look great with flowers peeking through the slats. Since we built our picket fence, we've enjoyed gardening, birding and just relaxing along that side of our yard. We've even seen more birds visit our backyard feeder because the increased spaciousness and visibility have made birds feel safer and more welcome. This summer we had a family of mallard ducks slide through the fence every day to forage under the feeder! We know that never would have happened if we'd still had up our tall wooden fence.

With just a little bit of initiative, we've revived a little bit of history, and we think our new fence is not only more appealing, but more practical than its predecessor.

Now if I could only get my hydrangeas to grow as big as Granny's!

1 comment:

  1. I’ve always loved the idea of a picket fence too! It conjures up the image of a quiet and peaceful home. The fact that they’re not closed keeps you open to the world, and yet upholds your privacy. Functionally, it lets strong winds pass through, so they’ll stand a lot longer than closed fences. I think it’s so cute how you all got together to put it up and paint it, by the way. Great job!