I was commenting on Lady Lydia's blog, Homeliving.blogspot.com, about how, in perusing information on establishing a more natural back yard, I discovered information on England's hedgerows and the keen interest many people have in preserving them. I went back and found some basic information about them at the website of the borough of Bexley, London, England, from which this illustration and the following information were taken:
Hedgerows are historical living boundary demarcations, made up of small trees, shrubs and climbers. They act as essential wildlife corridors
Apart from forming the traditional aesthetic character of the English landscape, they also offer protection from winds, pollution, noise and trespass and afford privacy. Hedgerows prevent soil erosion and water run off, "green up" unsightly urban areas, provide verdant backdrops to developments and cover or prevent graffiti on walls
Hedgerows support a myriad of species including nesting and feeding hedgerow birds such as whitethroats and chaffinches, bats, butterflies, moths, bees and other insects such as ladybirds, beetles and lacewings. They afford warmth, protection and shelter for small mammals such as dormice and rabbits and their predators, hibernating reptiles (slow worms, grass snakes and lizards) and amphibians (toads and frogs)
- Bats, also, use hedgerows as safe travel routes between roosting and feeding sites
- Hedgerows provide colour in the spring, flowers and nectar in the summer and berries/fruit in the autumn
- "Ancient" hedgerows, which tend to support the greatest diversity of plants and animals, are defined by the UK BAP as "those which were in existence mainly between 1720 and 1840 in Britain"
- "Species-rich" hedgerows may be taken as those containing five or more native woody species on average in a thirty metre length or those with fewer woody species but a rich basal flora of herbaceous plants.
I have come, perhaps rather late in life, to respect and appreciate boundaries. The natural one around my yard is also fortified by a six foot wooden stockade fence. It adds structure and precise definition to the boundaries of our land. That is a primary function of boundaries - to define.
They define where what is mine ends and where what is yours begin, and keep many a mistake from happening. Boundaries protect the vulnerable who reside within them (toddlers and puppy dogs come to mind). They establish the playing field, which gives rise to the orderly rules of play.
I remember Nicky Gumble, the Anglican priest who founded the Alpha course (a very fine Christian formation program) talking about his unfortunate attempt to sub for a tardy referee at his children's football (soccer) game. Since he didn't know the precise boundaries of the field and wasn't well acquainted with the rules of the game, chaos ensued. Children were upset and getting hurt and things quickly began to get out of control. In the nick of time, the real ref showed up, halted play, and quickly produced a piece of chalk with which he marked off the edges of the playing field. After this most important step, he proceeded to resume play and enforced the rules of the game, much to the relief and gratitude of children and parents alike.
The Lord God has set out His boundaries for us, and happy we are if we safely stay within them. He has set them for our salvation and that we may have life abundant on this earth. The children in the misbegotten soccer game were not having fun when there were no rules nor discernible lines drawn, but instead were getting upset and even injured. When the referee came and defined the borders and the rules (which are in and of themselves boundaries), the little players began to relax and enjoy themselves again.
I am afraid that as the lines of societal propriety have been crossed, and the ancient hedgerows of faith and purity have been breached and assaulted to their near destruction, we are now suffering the injuries and dismay that such demonic violence has wrought. Have we not lost our way, and become impoverished madmen, wandering into the paths of destruction? We hear blasphemy, the most explicit sexual talk, cruelty and depravity spew forth from the television set, and from our own loved ones, and barely wince or make protest. In fact, God help us, those terrible things have begun to come from our own lips. Think of what you say casually now, thing which you probably gasped at or held in contempt 20 years ago.
It was in the late 80's when, one Sunday, our pastor asked during a sermon, whether anyone had seen an important, recent ball game. He obviously wanted to tie what happened to the home team into the point of his sermon. So he asked the congregation. A pre-teen boy raised his hand at the back of the church. When asked by the pastor what had happened to our team, the boy loudly replied to the entire congregation,
"They got their butt whipped."
An involuntary gasp came from the congregation as the term the boy had used "got their butt whipped" was not in general usage in polite society and was considered vulgar and crass. I know it seems hard to believe now, but it was. It just stuck out there, like the proverbial sore thumb. Also everyone immediately felt embarrassed for our pastor who now had to respond and we also felt somewhat aghast about the parents, realizing that the child was probably used to hearing this kind of talk at home as a matter of course.
Well now the vast majority of us use this term like honey dripping off the hive, and consider it a mild euphemism for what is normally expressed. I don't believe many pastors themselves would even notice anything amiss if they themselves used expressions like this in their own sermons. And in fact, this little vignette is but the mildest of examples of the kind of boundary busting that has and is now occurring in our society and our personal lives.
To be continued.....