a weekend in canada (a few short years ago)

A Weekend in Canada (a few short years ago)

Four days, actually, walking thru rain forests and eating salmon.

Crossing back into the States, the woman at the checkpoint wanted a passport or a birth certificate. She was visibly unhappy that we had neither and she had to settle for our driver’s licenses. Then she spotted the potted bamboo shoot on the floorboard.

She slapped an orange sticker on our windshield and directed us to drive to an area where three uniformed men with pistols on their hips instructed us to cut the engine and step out of the car. They escorted us into a long building with no windows.

Inside, behind bullet-proof glass, were five men wearing black ties and white shirts with American-flag patches on the left sleeve. The men stared at us.

On the other side of the room was a chrome-topped counter, and behind it stood a man and a woman, both in uniform.

The woman motioned to us. “Over here,” she said.

We walked over to the counter and surrendered our potted bamboo shoot.

Then a guard came in from outside. “They don’t have paperwork,” he said, and handed the woman the orange slip from our windshield.

She read it, frowning, and then showed it to her partner. He shook his head. “What was your purpose in attempting to bring this plant into the United States?” he said.

“It’s a gift,” said Sandy.

“You can’t bring this into the United States,” said the woman. “You can’t bring any living vegetative matter into the United States without a permit.” She walked away with the bamboo shoot.

A few minutes later she returned with the pot, empty of bamboo and soil. She handed the pot to Sandy.

“Return to your car,” said the man.

Outside a guard was walking around our car with a scan wand plugged into a box-like device strapped on his back. Unable to find anything out of the ordinary, he directed us to get in the car.

Once we were in the car, he gave us very specific directions.

“Drive to the stop sign,” he said, pointing straight ahead. “Then stop. Then make a left. Stop at the next stop sign. Make another left. Welcome to the United States.”

We drove away, and two left turns later we were home.

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