hydrangea blossoming

hydrangea blossoming
Hydrangea on the Edge of Blooming

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Border Is Your Friend?

Here is a contrarian view of the border: not a burden but a blessing. It might be my view, or at least partly my view. I’m thinking about it. You can think about it with me.

People do not usually come to Point Roberts from the ROTUS (rest of the U.S.) as a dramatic career move. Well, it might be a dramatic career move, but unless you have carefully worked out how it will work, the drama is not likely to be positive. Some people do, of course, come here with arrangements to maintain employment in various ways somewhere else, but not employment in Point Roberts itself unless you are the new head of the marina or the golf course. Such positions are very few in number here.

No, if you didn’t already start out as a member of a historic resident family, you most likely washed up here because you are at the tag end of a career or the absolute end of one, but still interested enough in life to value a remote place with trees and ocean and relatively easy access to a metropolitan area with all the things that metropolitan areas have. I obviously am not conducting surveys, but from my perspective, this would describe a lot of the folks around. The puzzling thing (not an original insight of mine, alas) is that once Americans get to such a remote, treed, oceaned place, they are liable to start thinking about how it could be a somewhat better remote, treed, oceaned place. It could have sewers, it could have more restaurants or coffee shops, it could have more art and more artists, it could have a gymnasium or a theater or a bakery, it could be the U.S.’s first wireless community (unless somebody else has already done that), it could have a more vibrant economy providing real jobs, it could have a community plan so that it could become, if not now at least in the future, something other than whatever it is now.

I get the endless yearning for remaking things that is apparently a core aspect of the American temperament, but I do have a couple of questions: isn’t it enough that the magnificent metropolitan area next door already has all those things (except for the wireless part)? And isn’t it likely that the introduction of most of those things will lead to the introduction of other things, including the law of unintended consequences, and all that entails? I think the quick response to this is that if we don’t plan change, change will come willy-nilly, which we would not want. And yet, and yet, is not willy-nilly exactly the change that has come to Point Roberts over the past century, bringing it to the state that made us want to move here?

Maybe, maybe not. If it wasn’t random change, was it possibly the presence of something else that makes Point Roberts unlike any other place in the ROTUS? Would that be the presence of an international border with Canada on the other side and no corresponding access to the ROTUS? Maybe it is the border that sustains the Point over time and ensures all its beauty and all its peculiarity and all its remote, treed, oceaned excellence. Maybe it is the border that gives rise to the qualities that made us want to be here.

I pretty much like Point Roberts the way that it is, but if it is the border that keeps it that way, maybe we have to lighten up on the criticism in that arena.

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