Tuesday, 17 December 2013


The first time I saw a zig-zag cedar fence like this was just a weeks ago, on Manitoulin Island.  Photographer Bob McGauley has captured this example somewhere in the Sault Ste. Marie area.  You've probably seen this familiar pattern of fence in your travels through rural Grey and Bruce Counties.  But look closer - do you see something difference in the fence?  That's right! 
This fence is made with cedar poles rather than cedar rails.  It would have been faster to build than a rail fence, but the number of trees needed would have been roughly four times what a rail fence needs.  What do you think influenced the farmer to build a pole fence rather than a split-rail fence?  My bet is an abundance of cedar trees - trees that had to be cleared for crops and pasture anyway - they might as well be used in the fence.

This picture reminded me of the struggle that I have with the concept of abundance; I suspect that many people have the same struggle.  My normal, unthinking perspective on abundance is...well, unthinking.  At any time of the day or night, I can convince myself that I must have something, and have it right now!  But, every now and again, something happens to remind me that I seldom lack for anything I actually need.  If that's not abundance, what is? 

Some will equate abundance with money - but, philosophers and daily experience tell us that money is not a good indicator of abundance; there are many people with lots of money who are miserably unhappy.  And, if our life was filled with abundance, how could we possibly be unhappy?  My sense of abundance is filled with things that I take for granted:  eyesight, hearing, mobility, health in general, friends, the beloved - imagine being without these - that would be a poor life.

But, getting back to this farmer - how did was he likely to view abundance?  The cedar trees were a mixed blessing: an obstacle to growing the crops he needed, but a ready source of fencing material to mark the boundaries of his land and to keep livestock in their place.  The abundance that I experience is a mixed blessing too.  Most of the time it overwhelms my ability to see beyond it...it buries me and isolates me from what is important.  But every so often, when my heart and mind are in a good place, the abundance of my life comes to its purpose, to be shared with others.  That's when it truly feels like I can't get enough.

 Pat <><

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