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Friday, January 25, 2013

snake fences

"As much as any place in the world
I claim this snake fence village
of A-burg as part of myself
its dusty roads and old houses
even the garbage dump..."

from 'Gateway' by Al Purdy
in Sundance at Dusk, p.110

 The snake rail or zig-zag fence appears often in the work of Al Purdy. Although these examples are from South Marysburgh township, they are beautiful and evocative.

They are early fences made when there was a surfeit of long cedar rails and men to do the work,  and a shortage of wire or nails which appear in later fence types. The fence was practical; it could be unpiled and moved as cleared fields expanded, or needs changed.

I have always loved snake fences. Like old buildings and unspoiled natural places, they invite us to think about how things used to be done, and who used to do them..they are a portal to another time.

Compare these pastures to today's monster fields, stripped of fence rows and their small nature preserves. I hate the violence of all that change to accommodate industrial farming machinery and practices.

Along Gibson's Road, at the top of the A-frame property, an Ameliasburgh snake fence shelters under pines and cedars.

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