White, fluffy clouds scuttled across a pale blue sky. Lush green grass carpeted the huge lawn as far as her eyes could see. These things, however, didn’t draw six-year-old Natalie’s eyes as they usually did, for she stood with her head back, her brown eyes wide, looking straight up. She stood beneath a massive white arch. Her arms spread wide, she turned around, almost falling.
“Whoa, careful, Nattie.” Said her daddy. “You don’t want to fall down.”
Natalie slowly lowered her head, giggling. “I won’t fall down Daddy! It’s Biiiig! What did you say it was called again, and where are we?”
“It’s called the Peace Arch and we’re in the United States, that’s the country we live in, and Canada, the country right next to our country.”
“Daaady, how can we be in two countries at once?”
“Because, Sweetpea, this is the border between our two countries.”
“Oh.” Natalie’s brow creased as she thought about this, and she rubbed her chin. She’d seen her daddy do this many times, so she figured it must be the best way to think. “What’s a border?”
“That’s where our country ends and where Canada begins.”
“Ohhh, kind of like the fence between our yard and the Harrison’s yard?”
Natalie rubbed her chin again. “Well, what’s the Peace Arch? Does that mean there is peace between our countries?”
“Yes, that’s what this arch means – there has been peace between our countries for a very long time.”
Natalie craned her neck again, looking up. She then stepped back, until she was on one side of the arch. “Daddy! There are words up there. What does it say? Oh… and where am I now? Canada or the United States?”
“You’re in the United States, and it says, ‘Children of a common mother.’”
“That’s a funny thing to say! Doesn’t that mean all the same mother?” All the people that live here don’t have my same mommy!”
“Noooo, and I’m not exactly sure what that phrase means.”
“Oh well, maybe it means we can all live together happily ever after, like my fairy tale books say.” She grinned.
Her daddy chuckled. “Could be.”
Natalie ran through the arch and to the other side. “Daddy! I’m in Canada now.” She said, snickering. “There’s words over here too, Daddy. Come read them to me, pleeeease.”
As soon as he crossed over, Natalie wrapped her arms around his leg, squeezing tight. “Oh, Daddy, thank you for not leaving me all alone in this straaange country.” Natalie deadpanned.
“You goof.” He said, ruffling her hair.
“What does it say on this side?”
“Let’s see, it says ‘Brethren dwelling together in unity.’”
“Oh, I think I know what that means. We talked about that in Sunday School the other time. It means not fighting, and getting along with everyone.”
“That’s right. Hey, where are you going?” Her daddy said as she broke away from him and ran off.
As she crossed back through the Peace Arch, she said, “I’m going back to the United States. It’s such a long way, you know!” She threw herself down on the grass, and laughed and laughed. When she finally stopped laughing, she got up, brushed her pants off, and said, “Daddy, this has been a splendid day. Thank you for bringing me here. I like it when just you and me have time together.”
“You’re welcome, Nattie. It’s been a splendid day for me too.”
“Let’s keep going back and forth. Then we can tell Mommy how many times we went to Canada.” She said, her eyes sparkling with glee. “I can’t wait to tell her what I saw today and what I learned about the Peace Arch. I bet I could even write about it next time my teacher gives us free writing time in school.”
“Maybe, but there’s some pretty big words.”
“That’s okay, I know my teacher will help me.”
With that she took her daddy’s hand and they kept walking back and forth between the Peace Arch, until finally he had had enough and told her it was time to go home.
When they got in the car, Natalie said, “Daddy, I forgot to count how many times we went back and forth!” Tears glistened in her eyes.
“That’s okay, I counted.”
“Oh, thank you Daddy! You’re the best! How many times?”
“Fifty! Won’t Mommy be surprised to hear how many times we went to Canada today?” she said as she drifted off to sleep.
For more information on the Peace Arch, go here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peace_Arch or just type Peace Arch into Google.
When I was about six, I went to the Peace Arch with my family and I remember how immensely large it was.
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