On the southeast corner of College and Mulberry in Fort Collins, CO, there is a historically significant building being refurbished, remodeled, re-everything. The yard is surrounded by a wood fence whose pickets are clipped at the tops to make them look like cat faces with cat-like pointy ears. The white paint is peeling which gives the fence the kind of weathered look I love. For years I've been lusting after that fence, imagining a short run of it enclosing my blackberry patch, the plants my sister brought me from Oregon. That is one of the busiest corners in our town and it's not easy to find parking nearby so my photographs of that fence, taken over the last twenty years or so, have been snapped from inside my car, waiting for the signal light to change.
But recently, as I've watched the changes taking place there and seen the fence vandalized, whole sections of it come up missing, I took the time to contact the city about ownership, hoping to buy some of the fence. The folks at the building permit office would not tell me the owner's name so I walked around the place, knocked on doors, tried to figure out how to proceed.
Last week I saw a man with a bobcat (not the animal, a piece of machinery used to move heavy equipment or dirt) in front of the building so I drove around until I found a parking space, donned my mask, and approached him. He stopped his work to listen to my hopes for acquiring a piece of the fencing. He wasn't very encouraging, explaining he had a list of about thirty names of people like me who only wanted a piece of the fence. He said his plan was to find someone who wanted all of it. I figured that his reason for that was expedience, a one time sale, then done with the hassle. I gave him my name and phone number to add to his list of thirty names and walked away discouraged.
After I got home I told Bob about my encounter and how I wished I had at least asked the man how much he wanted for the entire fence. Then I realized I hadn't even asked him his name! Drat!
So, today I went back to town, saw the man on the bobcat, found a parking space on College Avenue, and marched back toward that building, determined to make one more attempt at purchasing my beloved Cat Fence. Even though I interrupted his work the man turned off the machine and listened to me once again. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that this fellow is not only the owner of this high profile piece of real estate, he and his wife built and installed the cat fence themselves over twenty years ago! And his reason for wanting to sell it to one person is not about expedience. He loves that fence. He and his wife invested so much time and effort in it, she drilling all the holes with a drill press, he acquiring the 4 x 4 pressure-treated newel posts that became the corner posts, both painting every surface of the pickets to protect against rot, installing the pickets with stainless steel screws for the same reason - wow! I can relate to that. He not only wants to sell the entire fence to one person, he hopes that person will repaint and install the fence around the yard of their home in Fort Collins so that all of us can enjoy the cat fence for years to come. I like that plan. I thanked him for telling me the history of the fence, took a few more photos - oh, I forgot to say that he is replacing the old cat fence with a new cat fence! The new one is steel and will last a very long time. Not as charming as the painted weathered wood fence but longer lasting and more secure. Right now the owner is plagued with vandalism, theft of pieces of the fence, and even theft of his tools.
When I came home empty-handed Bob said he would make me a cat fence of my own but the more I think of it I would prefer he alter the design a bit and make me an owl fence. Yes, I am moving on with this obsession of mine, diverting my desire from a cat fence to an owl fence...stay tuned.