This past weekend Abbie and I put up a garden fence. It’s pretty big: 50 x 50 feet, 7 ½ feet tall. The goal is to keep the deer and other critters out. Inside the fence we’re hoping to grow what we can: some perennials – rhubarb, asparagus, berries and herbs; along with the standard assortment of sugar snap peas, green beans, tomatoes, bell peppers, potatoes, and squash. The structure inside the fence is an old well-loved playhouse we’ll be converting into a chicken coop. The chickens will have their own smaller rotation of areas within the larger fence, eating food and garden scraps, bugs, worms, and feed; discharging natural fertilizer. I’m more the builder and chicken farmer. Abbie is more the gardener.
I still need to build the door/gate for the entry. Once it’s up it will theoretically be an extension of the fence when closed, the only way in and out when open.
Building a large physical barrier in the age of coronavirus has had an added layer of meaning. How can we keep out that which damages (even though it’s just trying to survive like us)? What will grow within the protected area, and what forms of wildness will appear? What about those living outside a protected area? Who all has to keep laboring around the clock to keep essential things alive? What and who gets to come through the door?
Even though we’re hoping it’s effective, the fence with the door is an extremely selective barrier. The sun and rain are finding their way into the space just fine. The birds swoop through and have some new spots to perch. Insects beneficial and harmful (by our categorization) will do their thing, and already are.
I’ll refrain from making all possible analogous connections between the fenced in garden and the fenced in life. I will suggest that this could be a season of growth, and damage, like none other in recent memory.
May we protect ourselves and our neighbors as best we are able against the harm. May we be fed by the sun and rain that remain fully accessible and remind us of our small and vital place in the grand scheme.