GREENER GRASS

Jared Kippler loved his Grandfather Gordon’s farm. Summer vacations usually included a stint helping out for a few weeks. He loved the openness and the freedom that his grandfather’s acreage provided. “You didn’t find that in the city” he always reasoned. The neighbors were neighborly and they liked it that way.

As Jared got older, the summer vacations got shorter as he spent more time in his rural retreat. Grandfather’s health was failing and it began to show through the neglected parcel of land. When Jared graduated from college, he made the toughest decision of his young life. He moved to the farm to live and care for the old man and try to resurrect the farm.

When Kippler arrived at his Grandfather’s he was greeted by a surprising sight. The neighboring yard, which ran alongside and behind the farm, had been completely enclosed by a thick fortress of a fence. Mr. Salazar had been farming his tract for as long as Gordon had. Francisco (Frank) had apparently taken ill and subsequently died. The resulting sale of the property brought a new set of neighbors with a different set of problems.

To hear his grandfather tell it, they were “uppity city folk, not very friendly”.

When he would say hello and wave, they would turn and ignore Jared’s grandfather.

“Your great-grandfather always said that silence was a fence without wisdom” the elder Kippler would recount to Jared. Now that silence took on a physical presence with the wooden enclosure.

Jared found Gordon Kippler’s assessment of their neighbors to be very accurate. And the land nearest the fence started to show the lack of attention it was getting. The grasses where waist high and higher where they did grow, and the ground was dry and cracked where it didn’t.

“Only two reasons for a fence” the sage elder continued. “You build a fence to hold stuff in, and to keep people out.”

Jared took it a step further. “You build a fence to keep love out and anger in!”

 

The openness and the freedom that Jared used to crave, and that his grandfather’s acreage provided, was all but gone. It was as if those “city folk” brought their urban banality home to roost. The once neighborly neighbors had been supplanted by arrogance and ignorance.

Jared felt it would be a matter of time before the neighbors got bored with their “Green Acres” dream, and the summer following his arrival proved him right. The tract of land was back up for sale and would sit vacant and more neglected as it ever was. The changes that Jared was enacting on their property were seeing some mild success, when Gordon’s tired heart finally gave out in late July.

The farm was never the same as his youth reminded. It was an isolated place; an island which was rapidly becoming deserted and desolate. Jared sensed what the Salazar’s must have felt when they were forced t dispose of their property.

After much soul searching, Kippler decided to stick it out a while longer.

Winter’s harshness gave way to the promise of spring. Jared had settled into Gordon’s life rather easily, and knew his grandfather would be proud of his effort and decision to stay. Another sign gave Jared hope. It was the one that said, “SOLD” and that sat in the Salazar’s front yard.

Progress has a very distinctive sound. Jared loved waking to the rumble of the tractors and backhoes that always seemed evident on the neighboring property now. Activity was the engine that drove that resurgence and seeing the work going on there encouraged Jared in his own endeavors.

Out back near the monstrous fence, Jared set out to paint the barn. He noticed that in the far corner a few sections of the fencing were gone. A group of people was working to dismantle the enclosure. One was clearly directing the others, as Jared saw a woman pointing at parts of the fence and gesturing signals to the rest of the crew. She noticed Jared observing their work. The woman gave a hearty wave in Jared’s direction.

“Howdy, Neighbor!” she called, sounding quite…neighborly.

Jared smiled and waved a “Howdy” of his own as he approached the fence to meet her. She was quite attractive, and her long raven hair and dark chocolate eyes bore witness. Her smile was warm and heartfelt. And very familiar.

“How are you Jared?” she began, catching him quite by surprise. “These places have seen better days, haven’t they?” she continued. Her manner and grace were intoxicating. “I remember the grass being much greener and the land so… open.” The woman smiled again, and Jared made the connection.

“Marisol?” he asked timidly. “Marisol Salazar?”

She smiled wider. “I thought you had forgotten. I’ve come home. God knows, this place needed me.”

Jared grew up summers with Marisol and her brothers. He always felt an attraction to the striking beauty before him. She was a few years older than Jared, but they shared the same passion. This land and all it had been; all it could be again. His workload had just changed.

Jared put his brushes and paint away and grabbed his hammers and pry bars.

Things would be much better now, the way they used to be. And without this horrid fence.

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