One of the coolest things about embarking on this whole gardening/chickens/canning/blogging about all of the above thing is the connections we’ve started to make around the country (and other countries, in some cases!). Hearing about others’ experiences, getting awesome new ideas, and learning from them has been so very helpful – and, in the case of our FIRST EVER guest blogger, downright entertaining. Meet Jenna, blogger and general awesome new idea generator at UpCountry Living, and take a look at what she calls her backyard: upcountry Maine and Canada. Thank you so much, Jenna, for your story!
It’s really common to me to be living near another country. I’ve been living right up on Canada since the day I was born. Even for the years that I lived out of the area, I was able to see Canada from the American shore whenever I visited home. No problem-o.
It seems odd to me on some level that not everyone has shared this experience of living next to another nation. It doesn’t seem “special” that, when we have large fires in our town, three fire departments from Canada will cross the border to come help the American firefighters battle the blaze.
Is this type of generosity exhibited along the border towns of Germany and France?
It seems totally plausible that every town has a nearby town where the drinking age is two years lower and all you have to do is cross a bridge to get there.
It’s so normal for me to be living near Canada that, one time (!), I crossed the border on a whim to see if the bowling alley in Claire, New Brunswick was open. I could see the building from the American side of the river, but I had an obstructed view of the Open sign.
So I crossed the bridge and pulled up to the bowling alley. Sure enough – the place is open. I pull a U-turn in the parking lot and head back across the bridge to America.
Believe it or not, our friendly American customs officers thought it was strange that I took an international joy ride to pull a U-turn in a Canadian parking lot.
My car was randomly searched, and finding nothing suspicious, I was allowed to drive on within a half hour of questioning and searching.
As I drove off, I was shaking with adrenaline. I couldn’t believe that I had become so accustomed to the border and the neighboring country that I forgot they were actually another country.
Customs and Border Patrol have been set to the task of protecting our borders and keeping the bad stuff out of our country. Those men were doing their job. They were searching somebody who went into a whole other country just to see if a bowling alley was open. I don’t blame them.
My casual regard for our international relationship with Canada doesn’t negate the fact that we live in an era of tight homeland security.
Since that fateful bowling alley adventure, I haven’t been to Canada. Not because the experience scared the dickens out of me. More because the regulations for border crossing have increased, including the requirement of a passport or passport card for coming back to the American side.
Passports and passport cards cost money. It’s that simple. I’ve been putting off forays to O-Canada for years now, because it’s difficult for me to hand over hard-earned cash for a piece of plastic that lets me set my feet on what my eyes can quite easily see.
That river is a literal boundary. An aimless nature adventure could land you in a mess of trouble if you misstepped into Canadian territory.
Boundaries feel unnatural. I know they must exist for some reason. I realize that there are things going on beneath the surface that other folks are tasked to police and maintain.
But it’s right there – right there!
Alas. Hmph. Well, diddle-daddle. Unless I abide by the law of man, I can’t go check out that land.
That’s why, this year, I’m asking for a passport card for Christmas.
I can’t wait any longer. There’s that one house across the river that’s had a broken front fence for three years now and I really want to offer to fix it for them.
I have a complex nest of feelings about my sense of place. Chris and Christie of Space-Farm recently wrote about it, too. There’s so much drama to the human and natural landscape and I seriously learn more about the folds of experience every day.
I’m ready to flash my plastic and journey out a little bit farther, where the natives speak mostly French and, for some reason, the house shutters are all néon bleu.
Thank you, Chris and Christie, for allowing me to share one of my stories! And folks – if you’re looking for more, check out more of my writing and photography at UpCountry Living.