The kettle is on, and my water boiling skills are being stretched to their max. Okay, it’s a black tea, so full-boil water is needed. That means I have plenty of time for a bit of mind wandering into the forest that is sometimes the province of philosophical thought (as in “you can’t see the forest for the trees”), so here goes: ever wonder what happened to white picket fences?

The end of the white picket fence era? (from Yahoo! images)

The end of the white picket fence era? (from Yahoo! images)

The white picket fence at one point in time epitomized the family-oriented neighborhood. Remember shows like “Leave It to Beaver” and “Dennis the Menace” (now appearing only on cable channels like TV Land)? Those idyllic homes had white picket fences. But that seems to be a bygone era, at least in many communities where hubby and I have lived.

Many towns have ordinances that restrict fences to being behind your house only. That leaves the front yard open. It seems to be all about the view as people drive along the streets. They want to see green lawns and flowering shrubbery and perfectly shaped trees. What they don’t see, but what is very much a part of that fenceless front yard neighborhood, are the dogs that the neighbors walk along and let do their business on that unprotected lawn  and the school kids who cut across the corner lot lawn every day after disembarking from the school bus and thus wearing a path across an otherwise pristine grassy area that the property owners pay a lawn care service a lot of money to maintain.

Yes, the white picket fence was very utilitarian, keeping the peace quite often as it stood as a guardian against the lawns being dotted with doggy doo and pathways being trod into existence by trespassers. In the context of today’s world, you can fret about it or you can adjust (put up little signs “Please keep dogs off” and lay stepping stones across the front lawn). If you choose the former, you will get an ulcer and may even have to stop drinking tea. Horrors! If you choose the latter, you can relax and drink lots and lots of tea for many years to come.

Speaking of drinking lots of tea, the water has reached that perfect rolling boil, so it’s time to get steeping!

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

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