Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Howl of A Train

Like so many small communities, my hometown had a functioning train depot many years ago. I don't remember much about it nor do I recall the trains coming and going. I've seen photos and heard stories and understand its history-a history wrapped about our country's history of growing and expanding with people taking the rails to travel-with industries using the trains to ship their goods.
I took the above photo of our train depot more than a few years ago. At that point in time, it'd been closed down. Travelling by train was becoming a thing of the past. Unfortunately my hometown lost this piece of history to a fire. Gone went its marble floors and the hustle and bustle. But one thing that hasn't disappeared is the howling of trains passing in the night.

Living about an hour from Ottawa and two hours from Montreal on the U.S. Canadian border along the St. Lawrence River we are blessed by the howling of trains on the Canadian side drifting over the river, chugging along day and night, 365 days a year. Their rail system is strong. Their depots in hometowns all along the way are open for business.

When I was growing up in the country, my cousin and I spent so much time outside playing and skating on the creek. Many evenings we'd skate under the stars. Even when it was snowing and blowing we'd be down there swirling about the ice. Eventually we'd find ourselves lying atop the ice-talking and laughing. But when that chugging and clanking and howling of a train passing by echoed over the river, over fences, through the fields and trees, we'd stop our talking and laughing and listen. I remember imagining who was on that train. I wondered where they were going. I found myself wanting to go along for the ride. In some ways, I did. Imaginations are wonderful.

I can still hear the trains. They are still passing by over the river. They wake me up. They put me to sleep. They stop me in my tracks. They hypnotize me. They make me feel happy. They can make me feel sad. Whatever my mood, they still make me wonder who is on them and where they are going. Business men. Business women. Families. Lovers. The lonely. I'll never meet them but they feel like old friends. They bring me back to those star-filled evenings skating on the creek with my cousin. Talking. Laughing. Sharing stories until the howling echo drifted over the land silencing us.

They make me long for a depot lost to a fire and a simpler time when a community along a river was serviced by trains coming and going-singing their soulful songs.

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