They stood beside the bamboo fence, halved by the dead stalk of a giant shagbark hickory tree.
“Good fences make good neighbours, eh?”
They nodded, each lost in thoughts of what to do next.
The writer must be universal in sympathy and an outcast by nature: only then can he see clearly.
— Julian Barnes
Thoughts of chaos, thoughts of order, of bills to pay, projects to finish, projects to start on, of this, of that, the pain of an ingrown toenail, a vertebra twisted out of place, an allergic reaction to privet blooms, a bruised knee…and how/whether to repair a bamboo fence that had existed for three generations of homeowners.
What did the bamboo and the shagbark hickory have in common?
Intimately tied to the Sun’s energy and Earth’s gravity, of course.
Subject to delicate balance of natural processes.
Living beings that once actively converted states of energy for ordered growth, now feeding other active, living beings in the role of decomposition.
The two neighbours stood in thought for close to a minute, accustomed to silences, often sitting only a meter or two apart from each other as they sat on both sides of the fence in the evening, sipping a cool drink, listening to the sounds of the jungle nearby while reading a book or simply tilting the head back, eyes closed, resting after a long day of interacting with humans in the commerce of life.
One with arms crossed, the other with hands on the hips.
Wondering how they were going to cut the dead tree apart, sharing the cost of removal without talking about the cost of removal.
Little aware that the friendly, neighbourly act of removing the tree led to Lee and Guin landing on an interesting icy protoplanet in the Oort Cloud decades later.