Southern Legitimacy Statement: I was born and raised one block south of the southern shore of Lake Erie, not far from the Cuyahoga River, which back then was redder than the reddest red clay of Georgia. We didn’t brag about it, though. Did the red clay of Georgia ever catch fire the way the red waters of the Cuyahoga once (okay, more than a dozen times) spontaneously and spectacularly combusted? Didn’t think so. We’re talking water. On fire. Beat that. Anyway, now I live south of the Canadian border in the general area of the country often associated with Robert Frost, who inspired this little piece of doggerel, Good Fences.
Here in the land of good fences neighbors war with trees and old stone walls. Brush is set to flame, lit with a sneer and a shrug at ordinances so that we can ignore each other without obstruction. A diesel dawn brings the first wave. Patterns and shadows in green signal submission; leaves are blown all the way to St. Helena. The titans leave their desks at dusk, carried by rail to inspect freshly flattened fields. A red-yellow sun begins its slow descent and one by one the fronts and flanks quiet. A breeze carries the sweet hint of grass as the last gasp is heard. Darkness brings a truce with stars. But there is always tomorrow. And the tomorrow after that. And always, alas, miles to go.