Friday, June 17, 2011

Choo Choo!

I was on my way to nowhere in particular this morning when I crossed the tracks halfway to town and only then heard the bells and horns on a diesel locomotive that was rolling slowly to the right-of-way that I'd just crossed over.  There was nobody else coming in either direction on the street so I did a quick U-turn, pulled up to the tracks, and reached for my camera holster like Deputy Dawg going for his trusty revolver.  I managed to squeeze off a few decent shots of the Luzerne and Susquehanna Railway engine moving a few cars over a nearby switch.

I chase trains much like I chased them as a little boy, running to the far end of Grandma's yard every time I heard one coming.  On a really lucky day Uncle Andy's dad, a trainman, would wave to me from a Lehigh Valley caboose as it crossed the small trestle over the creek behind the backyard.  Many dreams of my youth were tied up in the comings and goings of those trains, though I couldn't say how in words.  There was just something about the railroad that was bigger than life that carried me, in my day and night dreams, far from the confines of this valley to adventurous places of mystery and excitement and magic.

When the day in and day out running of the rat race threatens to cage me in, all it takes is the mournful cry of the plaintive augmented chord wailing from the horns atop a diesel cab to take me, at least for a blessed moment, to somewhere far away in my dreams.  Someone waits for me there, asking if I heard the horns.  The answer is apparent by the grin on my face and the wave of peace and belonging that washes over me.

I paused just there to sit on the front porch for a few minutes to watch the gentle rain and recalled doing the same with my Grandpa so many times when I was of preschool age. I don't think a day has gone by since he died when I was in the sixth grade that I haven't thought of him in some way and felt a loss in not having him here with me.  He would have had all the answers for me.  He was the wisest man I ever knew, and the quietest.  Hmmmmm.  Maybe I need to spend a little more time acquainting myself with a contemplative silence.  Or with blasting train horns.  Each draws my heart to the past.  Each compels me to walk boldly into  my future.

1 comment:

irondad said...

I have mixed feelings. On the one hand I share your sentiments. There's a certain romance and wistfulness about far away places.

On the other hand, I live about two miles from a big switching yard. Not so romantic when the long whistles disturb your sleep!

It's a good thing you were Deputy Dawg and not Barney Fife. If you were Deputy Fife your camera wouldn't have been loaded.