Crossing The Border

Leaving the misty mountains of East Tennessee…

…We headed north, crossing a big bridge into another land.

It is a land of kings and queens and crowns on the highway signs.

It is a land of thousands of acres of shade cloth covered Ginseng, grown as a cultivated crop. This plant grows in the wild mountain areas back home, and is harvested by locals with sacks to sell to the lucrative Asian markets. It is so different from the organized production of these farms.

In this small agricultural based community, on the north shore of Lake Erie, they call it the Banana Belt due to the moderation of climate from the large expanse of water. Century old homes on stately grounds adorn the city streets.

It is an idyllic pastoral paradise, complete with birdhouses on barns.

Bounteous home gardens grace the renovated one hundred plus year old farmhouse owned by our dear and long time friends, whom we were visiting.

While the men played golf, the ladies, hard core gardeners both, braked for plant sale signs along the country roads. We were lucky with this one, for not only were there choice specimens for sale, all dug from the property, but the homeowner was more than happy to give two interested customers the private tour. His potager was dotted with metal trelliage, the plants were happy and the whole garden was extremely well designed. We surmised that this home had been showcased on garden tours in the past and will be in the future. The United States does not allow plants to return with travelers out of country without extensive paperwork, so nothing could be brought home. Some plants were bought as hostess gifts for my friend, and there was planting and pruning done to earn our keep.

In a sad twist of weather fate, a large spruce tree was downed in a recent storm with hurricane force winds on their acreage. In the boughs of the tree was a nest with two baby black squirrels in it. The young ones survived the crash, and have been nurtured by the humans with puppy formula served in fine china dishes in the barn. They are today moving to solid food, being taught to hold it in their paws, apples cubes, and eat while sitting on their haunches, a crucial survival skill. They will be trapped in the cat carrier and taken to a wilder place, to fend for themselves soon.

They are brothers, named Ben (Affleck) and Matt (Damon). Ben, or it might be Matt is a smart fellow and quite shy around the people person types. Matt, or it might be Ben lacks that bit of insight and is fearless when perhaps he should be leery. He boldly went where no squirrel should go, sniffing the paw of the reclining Siamese cat who shares the farmhouse with the humans with occasional forays outdoors. Luck was on his side, for the cat is very well fed and only mildly interested in the antics of the boys. Hey, don’t go up my pantleg, Ben or Matt!

I have never been so close to a wild squirrel before. The ones back home are public enemy number one, red squirrels who do major destruction to the Fairegarden with digging, burying and then looking for the black walnuts here. The camera gets closer and closer, nearly touching his whiskers. Not captured on pixels is what happens next. As he finished the piece of apple, he decided to eat the camera. Seriously. He began with the woven fabric strap, then put his mouth on the lens. Hey you! Stop that! No! No! No!

Yes, dear and gentle readers, he got me. Like a needle drawing blood, type A negative. Cleaned, sterilized and bandaged, the visit continued happily for a few more days. The trip home was long and tiring, but the garden and our own cats were glad to see our return. Until the next time, our dear, dear friends.


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20 Responses to Crossing The Border

  1. gagarden says:

    You had a beautiful trip to Canada and got to see our famous, imported black squirrels. The babies are cute. I too have been bitten by a squirrel, one my dog caught and I was trying to nurse back to heath. I had on thick leather welding gloves and he bit through them. Squirrel bites hurt with those very sharp teeth.

    Hi Donna, thanks for visiting. It is so beautiful there, and was so much cooler than Tennessee while we were there, a very pleasant trip. The little black squirrels were our entertainment outside, and I didn’t hold a grudge against whoever bit me. But no more bending down for photo taking or feeding, no sireee. It was a piercing experience!

  2. Carol says:

    Frances, it looks like a beautiful place to visit. Those squirrels are something else, aren’t they?

    Hi Carol, thanks for visiting. It was very scenic, misty and cool. Every time we visit there, I am amazed at the size of the evergreen conifers. They don’t grow like that here. That will teach me to keep hands away from squirrel mouths!

  3. Ouch! Otherwise, looked like a fun trip!

    Thanks Helen. It was a minor setback, the trip was great.

  4. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    You crossed several growing zones on your way north didn’t you? I bet you felt like you went back in time. Fun touring new places. Beware of those “cute” little squirrels no matter what color they are. They are wild creatures.

    Exactly, Lisa! The plantings were like going backwards in the way back machine. We had just missed the tulips, and returned home to daylilies. I have new respect for wild creatures now.

  5. gail says:

    Frances, What a gorgeous shot of the iris and allium! Of course I love that rusted metal trelliage~For a few seconds I was hoping you brought a bit home! It sounds like you had a wonderful time~It’s good to spend time with dear long time friends and to get to garden with them! Ben and Matt are adorable. Sorry you were bitten, that must have been a shock. xxoogail

    Hi Gail, thanks. My friend’s garden and property were beautiful. We had a fabulous visit, loving every minute of it. If those metal pieces were for sale, I promise you they would have come home with me, they were exquisite. I found nothing worthy, came home empty handed. That might be a first!

  6. Molly says:

    My hubby and I honeymooned in Canada, and I took a lot of pictures of plants. A lot. Beautiful! (sorry about the squirrel)

    Hi Molly, thanks for stopping by. What a great place to honeymoon, it is so beautiful there. A true gardener always takes photos of plants. HA

  7. Layanee says:

    Travel is lots of fun but there is nothing like returning home is there? Great photos as always

    Thanks Layanee, well said, well said.

  8. Looks like a wonderful trip! Isn’t it fun to get to see others gardens? I think I like it better than visiting public or national gardens.
    Sorry about the bite, but the photos are great!

    Hi Karen, thanks. It is fun when friends also garden, but to be honest, all of my friends are hard core gardeners.

  9. Cindy, MCOK says:

    Black squirrels are much cuter than the furry-tailed rodents we have here! The gardens look lovely … and COOL!

    Hi Cindy, thanks. It was quite cool there, I wore the wool coat and was glad to have it! It started to warm up on the day we left, and got warmer and warmer the closer to home we got. It was a shock to the system! The black squirrels are much cuter than the ones here. Even if they bite.

  10. I never thought I’d say this, but those are darned cute squirrels.

    I am with you on that one, MMD. They were little and funny to watch, especially with the cat.

  11. Leanne says:

    What a wonderful place to visit – loved the black squirrels – tut tut they need to learn manners – your poor thumb. The family will enjoy having a look at this post too.
    THANK you for sharing.
    Love Leanne

    Hi Leanne, thanks so much. The whole trip was wonderful, and the squirrels were very entertaining. They are different than the red squirrels we have here. I am glad you enjoyed reading about our travels.

  12. What an interesting and eventful excursion! It is very beautiful there…I have not been to that area. Thanks for sharing!

    Hi Sage, thanks for reading. It is truly lovely there, especially at this time of year. We had been there before in mid-summer, fall and mid-winter. Always a treat to see good friends, too.

  13. debsgarden says:

    You brought back memories of my ‘Whiskers’, a newborn squirrel found by my son after a terrible storm blew the nest out of the tree. His eyes were still sealed shut, and I was the first being he ever saw. He thought I was his momma! I was able to raise him until he was able to successfully return to the wild. He was very cuddly and quite intelligent. He would come when I called his name, even when he first returned to the trees.

    How sweet! My friend was the first being seen by these babies too, she was their mommy. I am glad to hear of a successful return to the wild for them, wondering how they could adjust. Good to know they will be fine.

  14. Lola says:

    A very nice trip to a beautiful place. Sorry you got ‘pierced’. I was bitten too. They are fast little creatures. We had 2 different ones as pets. The little female was used as advertisement in front of local theater for the movie “Peri”. A movie about a little squirrel.

    Hi Lola, thanks. How cute for your little pet to become famous!

  15. Beautiful images, I love the mountain shot at the beginning, and the bird houses on barns. The squirrels are very cute, and I say this as a person who views the ones in my yard as bothersome tomato eaters. . . Wild animals of any age are dangerous. Glad you didn’t get an infection or a worse injury.

    Hi Hands, thanks, so glad to see you here. The bird houses on the barn is from my friend’s house, such a pretty sight as we sat on the patio watching those baby squirrels. Cute but dangerous sums it up well.

  16. I was just saying to myself what cute little squirrels and then OUCH! The countryside is beautiful without that squirrel.


    Beware the wild, is the lesson learned. It was very beautiful there.

  17. Sounds like you had a great trip and I hope your finger didn’t get infected from the squirrel bite. Yes, are cuties but have sharp little teeth.
    I sometimes wished it wasn’t that far to go to Canada. I would love to visit our neighbors in the north someday. Oh well, for now I will just keep dreaming about such a trip.

    I’ve never been lucky enough to see a black squirrel although we really have quite a few squirrels around. As far as I know they are rather rare down here in Texas.

    Thanks for the kind words. It is a long way to Canada, but worth the trip to see our good friends. I had never seen a black squirrel either, quite attractive critters.

  18. Alistair says:

    People here in the UK have been reporting sightings of black squirrels recently. Apparently these ones are the regular grey American ones which happen to be black, for whatever reason. Hope you have recovered from the bite.

    Hi Alistair, interesting about your black squirrels. The ones in my neck of the woods are all the reddish type, I would never go near one, especially now! The bite was tended to immediately and has healed, just a bit sore.

  19. lynnekovan says:

    Ow, that bite looks sore! Sweet little fellow, and good that he defends himself, as he will need to later. Lovely post Frances, that garden looks gorgeous.

    Thanks Lynne, the bite has healed but I can still feel it. Our friend’s garden was lovely, we had a fabulous visit.

  20. chuck b. says:

    Wow. That’s something I’ve never done–gotten bit by a wild animal! I would have freaked out.

    Oh my gosh, how much do I love that Ambassador Bridge sign?! A lot!

    Hi Chuck, thanks for visiting, so nice to see you here. Miss you! Getting bit by a wild animal is not something I recommend, it did hurt, but wasn’t serious. I love that, and all bridge signs, some do not even have a nice sign like that.

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