Borders and Discipline

2

June 20, 2022, Fredericton- The Senior Agent, at the border crossing in Jackman, Maine, had a few questions of his own for me, after the line inspector was finished-as much because things were quiet there, as because my itinerary seemed a bit unusual. It’s always an eyebrow raiser, when a traveler is entering a country primarily to save time and distance, before leaving again-albeit for a week or so. After asking his questions, and getting satisfactory answers, followed by a physical inspection of my vehicle, he sent me on my way, with wishes for a safe journey.

I learned long ago to not be ruffled by official queries, as I have nothing to be ruffled about. In a world of smugglers, grifters and flat-out liars, the well-being of people within a country depends on those who staff its borders. When I reached my second border crossing of the day, at St. Croix, New Brunswick, I was asked to complete an acccesscan application. That being done, in about thirty minutes, I was likewise sent on my way. The officials were congenial, while determined to help guard their country from as much of COVID as they could.

A disciplined person should not have to fear the law-though unfortunately many people of colour, however well-disciplined, still have to. That significant fact aside, the majority of peace officers, including those on the borders, do a fine job-and the time some of us must spend waiting for them to do their work properly is a relative trifle, compared to the time that would be wasted, in the event of chaos.

The drive out of Montreal was fairly smooth. Traffic was not bad, save for some slowing along Quebec’s many road and bridge repair projects. I passed by a few spots in the Eastern Townships (originally a largely English-speaking part of Quebec, lying between the St. Lawrence River and the United States border, and now pretty much evenly-divided between Francophones and Anglophones). There is Lac Boivin, which I will hopefully visit some day. There is cheerful Sherbrooke and the town with the ominous name of Magog. There is Lac-Megantic, which I visited several years ago, and which endured a deadly runaway train accident, in 2013. My main goal, however, was to return to the U.S., cross Maine and get to this capital city of New Brunswick. Even with the above-mentioned events, this happened.

The interior of Maine was the scene of some of the harder periods of my life, in the mid-to-late 1970s. I was a somewhat brasher, cruder person then, and there were few people who saw through that exterior. So, I crossed the state on Highway 6, through Piscataquis and northern Penobscot Counties, stopping only to get gas in the town of Greenville, dinner outside Howland and for this scene of Moosehead Lake.

There are many miles to go yet, but I am almost halfway through this journey.