With work taking up a lot of my time lately, I haven’t been able to get out and do a lot of new exploration. I’m going to try and revisit some old trips or ideas and use those as a source of new material until I get a chance to do some road trips again.
Today’s post was inspired by a fence I walked by in the Calgary community of Bowness in March of 2017.
I walk by the fence. I hardly notice it at first. After all, it’s just a fence, right?
Something draws me back to it. I take out my cell phone and snap a photo. I’m sure if any of the neighbors witnessed me taking the picture they must have asked themselves what I was up to. Why would anyone be interested in an old fence? After all, it’s just a fence, right?
Maybe it wasn’t the fence that drew me in. Maybe it was the lot sitting behind the fence. A lot covered in brown grass and weeds and piles of dirt. Maybe it wasn’t all the things present on the lot but what wasn’t on the lot. There was no house. Just an empty expanse where, undoubtedly, a house once stood.
Yes, it must be the emptiness of the lot that brought my attention to the little fence. As I stand in the morning sunlight and gaze at the fence, I begin to wonder about the story behind the fence.
Obviously at some point this was someone’s yard. Someone’s house once stood on this spot. This fence, now with missing pickets and peeling paint was once a source of pride for someone. Someone took the time to build it and to maintain it. What stories could it tell us? I can imagine an old man carefully applying coats of white paint to it while his wife sits in a porch swing sipping lemonade, contently watching him work away. That vision fades and is replaced by that of a sullen teenager, begrudgingly slapping paint on the fence, all the while wishing he was somewhere else. Or, perhaps, a father and son, working away in the July heat carefully hammering in nails to keep the pickets attached.
Does the fence represent a happy memory for someone? How could it? After all, it’s only a fence right?
Perhaps the home was occupied by a young boy and, upon seeing the girl from his class that he has been anxious to talk to walking down the street, he rushed out of his front door and jumped over the fence to catch her before she got too far down the street.
I think to myself that this fence must have many stories it could tell.
I search Google Street View to see what was here before. The first image was captured in September of 2007. The fence looks much like it does now, except there is a row of overgrown bushes growing along its length. Some time between April 2009 and May of 2012 those bushes were removed, leaving the fence more exposed and exposing the empty the lot behind it. There will be no clues as to what was here.
I walk away from the fence and casually glance down at the photo on my phone. How is it possible that such a simple fence captivated my attention? I think to myself “Maybe I can make a blog post about it one day.” I chuckle and think “Nah, there’s no way — after all, it’s just a fence, right?”