- The nicest border crossing in the world.
On my last visit to Derby Line, I mentioned the special place where I’m now writing this – the Haskell Free Library and Opera House. This unique library sits atop the Vermont/Quebec border. If you enter from Canada and go back to Canada when you leave (or enter from the U.S. and return to the U.S.) you don’t have to report at customs. Pretty cool
About a month ago, CBC news anchor Peter Mansbridge hosted a live news report from the Haskell reading room to discuss the pending elections in both countries. Local voters from Derby Line and from Stanstead, Quebec, sat on their respective sides of the “border” and gave their views on the issues.
I tend to love the feel of libraries in general (must be all those stories rumbling around on the shelves) but this is definitely one of those rare public buildings that somehow manages to feel like home.
I’ve used the library several times this visit and was fortunate to stop by during one of their children’s story time hours. The librarian told stories and sang songs – classics such as “Old MacDonald” and “There Was Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly” – with a group of about 10 three and four-year-olds.
They wrapped up the hour by singing a rousing rendition of “I’m a Little Teapot” and as they got to the final verse, the librarian stood up and called out, “Big finish, kids! … jazz hands!!” and the pint-sized crowd all stood and belted out their final notes while waving their hands in the air. (Scored about an 11 on the “Cute Scale” of 1 to 10.)
As I was leaving, I stopped at the checkout desk and thanked the librarian on duty. Along with performing all the regular library duties, these dedicated staffers also greet everyone who comes in, give tours of the library and the opera house (in English and French!) and provide a wonderful example of cross-border cooperation.
I’m usually pretty shy in these situations but since it was my last day in town (for a while) and since I’ve been practically camped out here some mornings, I plucked up my courage and said hello to the librarian. I also told her how much I enjoyed the library and what a great job they were doing. She thanked me warmly. Then I spotted a clear plastic box sitting on the counter. There were a few coins in the bottom.
“Do you take donations?” I asked.
“Yes, to help maintain this place,” she said.
So I folded up a US$10 bill and squeezed it through the coin slot. The librarian thanked me again and gave me a big smile. How big? I think you could actually see it up in Canada….
P.S. Today is Canadian Thanksgiving and I’ve been fortunate to be able to spend it with loved ones. It’s a day for reflecting on the many blessings in my life and here’s a beautiful song that helps me do that. Hope you enjoy it too! (Video courtesy of Ladyvette826 on YouTube.)