Sunday, 16 March 2008


On a Sunday drive around the Atherton Tablelands, we stopped to look at a cluster of wind turbines. We parked beside an old fence. You see a detail of the fencing join above. Wire twitching at its finest. Just look at that well made join. Meant to last and it has. By the lichens on the post, we reckon, what, at least 20 years old. The fence probably kept in a herd of dairy cows. No cows in sight now. Have the wind turbines replaced the cows, we wonder?

That join marks more than a paddock boundary. It marks the end of an era.

The fencer used a hand auger to drill the holes, a chainsaw to cut the angles and clever wire twitching techniques to secure the wire without breaking it. Beautiful craftsmanship. Hard, hard work. Local fencers were probably doing this kind of join by the 1950s. In the early 1900s iron fencing wire would have been unavailable or very expensive in Far North Queensland. Chainsaws arrived after World War II. We have to admire this work of a past era.

Have you ever thought about how the act of joining carries the act of exclusion along with it? The fence join helps to mark a boundary and show ownership. Everything inside belongs to someone.

I have an urge to belong that gets in trouble with my urge to run free. The internet provides an opportunity to join with others. It also allows one to run free. What more could I want? Encountering people with similar interests both excites and frustrates. In the excitement, some people online forget that others have different seasons, time zones, languages, ways of spelling, ages, choices, values.... Those are some of the "simple things" that cause frustration and a sense of exclusion. I figure the irritation comes mainly from inexperience with encountering "different" especially when you're already in a group where you assume "similar."

As experience increases, communicating with others outside one's usual boundaries should get easier. Perhaps that marks the hard work of the present era.

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