I make my way behind the church, my shuffling footsteps kicking up pebbles. The setting sun creates a quiet scene of Fall serenity here in the center of town. It is the quintessential New England Fall, the leaves just beginning to change. The sun sinks lazily behind the trees, casting yellow orange rays upon the scene before me. The meetinghouse stands tall, The white paint bright, and the black capped steeple stands high above the rustling trees. These oaks never go first, they wait till mid fall to reveal their deep oranges and reds. Behind the proud old meetinghouse stands the White Picket Fence.
Its been here since I have been a child,aging as I have. I walk by running my hands across the pickets the same way I did when I was small. These old fences remind me of a simpler time. They also show a certain neglect, a forgotten nature that draws me. Hundreds of pickets separate the church and dirt drive from the sloping lawn of the graveyard below. Smooth dark shale headstones stand in the same green expanse as stones that were placed last week. This is a place of peace, and understanding and age. When I have walked through I have never seen another soul. This may be because this place is so old. Many of the loved ones left behind have moved on themselves.
Looking at the fence it to mirror this. It as if someone has forgotten them. The pickets once carefully placed now stand weather beaten, aged. Some stand intact, their once white paint cracked and peeling. Others are cracked or all together missing their points, the gray wood exposed. Here or there a new picket stands out, its white paint bright and fresh. Yet as a whole they are aged. Vines snake in between the pickets, twisting and turning, their yellowing leaves showing that Fall is upon us. Soon Winters biting winds will be here, and this fence will lay behind a deep drifts of snow. The fence is a constant sentinel, serving witness as time continues to turn. The wood will keep cracking and fading, lichen growing on the aging fence as life marches on.
As I gaze at the beaten up peeling paint I think back to a town meeting years ago. Sitting there silently I remember the adults discussing the fence. That year volunteers were only able to fix a section of the fence. The rest of long expanse lays broken and falling apart to this day.
For many people, the white Pickett fence is part of a larger American dream. Its part of our larger mythology. The perfect family and house, behind a little Pickett fence. They are part of a perfect idea that so many people strive for. To see such a symbol fall into disrepair is a commentary on our society as a whole, and part of me wonders about our future.