March 8, 2012

Happy Thurs. Nice day here. -12 in the flats and sunny. Lots of snow stuck in the trees. I have snow piles about eight feet high in my yard from clearing the driveway.

I just read a fun novel called Border Songs, by Jim Lynch, about a summer of smuggling along the Washington-BC border. The contraband includes people sneaking into the US and “BC bud” in large quantities. As the grow-ops expand in the region to take advantage of weak border patrols, the local BP chief seeks funds to keep drugs and terrorists out of the country. Among his new hires is 6’8” Brandon Vanderkool, who is dyslexic with a touch of autism, keenly attuned to the details of his surroundings, avid bird watcher, impromptu artist, and son of Norm, a local dairyman whose wife is beginning to show signs of Alzheimer’s and whose farm is on the verge of collapse. Inside one of the barns is a long-unfinished boat project, the dream of Norm’s youth.

Across the border is retired BC professor Wayne who smokes medical marijuana on the porch and loves getting a rise out of his American neighbors. His daughter works in a plant nursery until she is lured to take charge of a large MJ grow-op next door to her father’s house. Meanwhile, Norm gets Brandon to apply for the Border Patrol. On the job, Brandon is clumsy and clueless about people, but his powers of observation make him a “shit magnet” who catches more smugglers than the rest of the force combined. His busts make national news and money flows to hire more BP cars and equipment, including cam towers and a drone. The interactions between the neighbors of this small community on both sides of the border as the area becomes a low-grade war zone made me laugh out loud, while the adventures of Brandon are told with a grace and sensitivity that are deeply touching. If you are looking for a good read, you might enjoy this book.

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