Friday, March 25, 2011

Watching the Trains

When I was a little girl one of my favorite things was for my grandfather to take me for a drive to the train yards in my town. Its an old enough city that the train yards are massive. I huge bridge crosses over the main part of them.

We would drive over the yards, and I would stand in the front seat, face pressed to the glass, and peer down over the edge of the bridge and look at the trains coming and going. For me, it was exciting to think of the trains heaped with coal going off to some big factory where they would use them to heat furnaces and make interesting things. (For me, it was usually toys) We would circle the cross street and my grandfather would drive back over them and I would look at the other trains, the empty box cars, and wonder what had been in them and where they would go now.

I would get especially excited if we saw a train moving down the tracks. There was a side street shortly after the bridge and my grandfather would turn down that if there were any actually moving. We would drive parallel to the tracks and I would look up in wonder at the cars. They were so much bigger up close. I loved them.

One of the parks in my hometown had an old caboose to a train in the center, and I remember when we went swimming there in the summertime how I would wander up to it and stare, the sun baking my shoulders as I clutched my towel to my chest. Where had that train been before it stopped being used. Why had they stopped using it?

Last week I was in that older part of town and I saw that there is a full train there now, fenced in to keep out vandals and teenagers looking for a place to make out. I drove to that old bridge and saw that there was construction. They are rebuilding it, and I wonder if now the walls of the bridge will be so high that I can't look over the edge and see the trains anymore. Even now, when I drive over that bridge, I crane my neck to look at them. If Kitten is driving, I'll loose the thread of the converstation as I stare at the increasingly desolate looking train yard. Sometimes I wonder where the trains are going. Sometimes I wonder what they have in them. Mostly, though, I wonder how I found them so glamorous as a child and why I still love to stare at them.

It may not come as a suprise to you but I live very near a railroad track. It wasn't a concious decision, Kitten bought her home in the downtown area of my city, and surrounding it is an indistrial area. It never bothers me. At night, I can listen to the sound of the trains passing by. It helps me to sleep. Sometimes I can almost smell the leather of my grandfather's giant Lincoln and feel it bouncing beneath my feet as I close my eyes and drift away.


  1. Well hello there stranger! Glad to see you back in the blogging world!

  2. Great to see you again... welcome back! :0)

    Reading this, I could hear Arlo Guthrie's "City of New Orleans" playing in my mind. I used to love watching the trains go by, too. At one point my family lived very close to train tracks. The trains would go by twice a night and, like you, I always found it soothing. I missed it when we moved.