Mixsonian Larry

Walking the Fence

As evening falls, I take a slow walk around my yard, looking at its boundaries, looking at the neat grass within, the wildness without, and the feeling of something familiar, something old came up inside of me and I thought “Walking the Fence”.  Yes, walking the fence.  It is an old phrase, something farmers and those connected to the earth would have heard.  You all have heard the phrase “On the Fence” but that is not the same.  Being on the fence is being undecided, you could fall on one side of the fence or the other.   Walking the Fence is something different. 

  I first heard the phrase when I was a child visiting my grandpa and grandma Mixson’s farm.  As farmers they had land and, of course, a fence around it.  I remember as a child being at my grandparent’s farm on a windy stormy night, the wind howling, the rain beating down on the tin roof making a chatter, the lighting flashes and the thunder shaking the rafters.   As we gathered in front of the fireplace to keep warm, grandpa would say in a slow southern drawl, “I guess I’ll have to walk the fence in the morning.”   The first time I heard it I didn’t know what it meant, and I asked dad, “What is walking the fence?”.  Dad patiently explained that with the wind and the storm a tree or branch might fall on the fence and the cows would get out so grandpa would walk the fence line to make sure there were no breaks in it.

  I had forgotten Walking the Fence until that walk tonight around my yard when I felt something, something deeply rooted, came to me with the memories of my grandfather and father walking the fence came flooding back and I find it as much relevant today as it was in the old times on the farm.

  Today we each have our boundaries, our fences, whether our yard, our house, our personal space around us our perhaps our cubical at work. We may build a fence around our boundary to keep something out we fear, or we may build a fence to protect something within we cherish.  The fences we build are not always physical, more often than not in this age, they are emotional fences.   Fences can be a good thing to protect something but not all fences are needed.  Perhaps we each need to walk our own fences, seeing if there is any break in it or perhaps seeing that it may not be needed at all.

Larry Mixson, 04-05-2019