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Friday, October 2, 2009

Border Line

Looking across the St. Croix River from St. Stephen, New Brunswick, you see the United States of America. What is more interesting perhaps is what you don’t see: no guards, no guns, no fences. The border is only a still and quiet river this serene dawn, a place to paint or photograph. You can’t see the physical line in the water where the U.S. and Canada join, like the maps show you is there. You can’t see that it’s an hour ago over there across the river where somewhere in the morning mist Atlantic Time becomes Eastern Time. It’s all a lovely illusion.

You need your passport now to cross back into the U.S., which makes the invisible border seem more real. But reality is parceled sparingly out here and there in other ways, too. The St. Stephen Lighthouse is not really an aid to navigation, it’s really more for show. That boat in the water might not be “real” either. It just makes the scene too perfect. But it might be real. Is it on the US side of the imaginary line in the water, or the Canada side? I suppose you could find out if you call out to the skipper, asking what time it is. If it’s 5 a.m. he’s in the U.S., if his watch says 6 a.m., he’s in Canada.

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