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  • Writer's pictureJean Linville

Fences & Fires

When we purchased our house in Connecticut it already had a split rail fence installed around the front and side edges of the property. It is an unobtrusive fence that blends in rather nicely to the landscape, but it is still a fence, a line of demarcation. What is it with humans and our need to draw lines both visible and invisible around places and things? Do we honestly think that by constructing fences, walls and geographic boundaries that we can separate ourselves from the rest of the world? And to what end, insulating ourselves from evil? What about the good things that are thereby prohibited from entering? I pondered this the other day as I sat with a patch of day-glo, yellow-orange Black-eyed Susans in our yard.

There are literally hundreds of individual "pots of sunshine" in this patch of flowers. They are, not so gradually, taking over our side yard. Where there once was a nine foot swath of grass, there now exists the narrowest of paths. With equal vigor, these plants are also marching in the other direction towards our split rail fence. In some sections, they have already ducked under the fence and are venturing boldly into our neighbor's yard. Rudbeckia on the run! Our fence holds no meaning for these dazzling flowers, nor for the dragonflies, bees, mourning doves, chipmunks, squirrels and a myriad of other creatures as they move easily in and out of our yard. The oak tree to the left of our property and the linden to the right mock our property line as well by conspiring with the wind and tossing acorns and seeds over the fence and into our yard. It seems that all beings, except human beings, understand the futility and folly of fences in this world.

Larger forces are trying to get our attention this week and teach us this very important lesson, namely the hurricane approaching Florida and the fires currently devastating the Amazonian rainforests. Raging fires have no respect for fences and in fact they are often fed and energized by devouring them. Animals, insects, the wind, hurricanes and fires do not see our arbitrary boundaries of fences, state lines and border crossings. They are only bounded by land masses ending into large bodies of water and the planet's atmosphere. Hurricanes have come and gone and still we do not acknowledge that we are simply fragile components of a larger system. Perhaps as animals flee the Amazonian fires and smoke and ash travel hundreds, if not thousands of miles, and more critically the overall quality and available levels of oxygen decrease worldwide, the human race will have an "aha" moment. In short measure we need to drop our tendencies of protectionism and understand that our fate is very much tied to that of the Black-eyed Susans and the larger ecosystem of the planet as a whole and take decisive action. Click the image to the left to learn more about the implications of the Amazonian fires.

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