August 5, 2018

A Passing Train That Has Now Passed

My aunt and uncle had a cottage that I used to go to, mostly in the summer...it had two stories and probably a lot more than that if it could talk...it had a big back porch with a lot of windows that overlooked a lake, a big iron frame bed that I used when I was there...in the morning the sunbeams would shine through the windows and into my eyes and say “c’mon, wake up, let’s go”...it would be around 6:30 or so and I’d rub the sleep out of my still young, clear, and unjaded eyes and set off on another adventure...sometimes I used to take a long walk out in the country by myself back with the birds singing loudly, this was back when the world was a safer place or at least in my cocoon of innocence I thought it was...I tried getting up and going fishing sometimes because that’s what the older boys did, but I just never fell for it hook, line, or sinker...I never liked eating fish so I wasn’t too enthused about catching one, although I did catch a nice sized catfish once that my father cleaned and later ate for his dinner that evening...now, if you could have thrown a line in the water and caught a pepperoni pizza or a rib-eye steak, that would have been a different story and so too would have been this one...it had country roads where I spent much time riding my little motorcycle my parents had bought me and I made sure it came with me...I would be in the backyard throwing a football and pretending I was an All-Star, avoiding poison ivy that was reaching out for me with its itchy fingers and then I would hear the sound of it...a train was coming...it’s loud horn splitting the country air...ERRRRRRRRRRRRRN...that was my queue...it was probably about a half of a mile I guess, and I would hop on my little Honda motorbike and go as fast as I could to the crossing on the little road full that sneaked into the community of cottages with patches and cracks and buckles from the past winter...I would get there quick so I could be up close when the train passed...they were always freight trains, long dirty, hurdy gurdy, creaky, squeaky freight trains headed to destinations unknown...at least to me...I always looked for a ‘hobo’, someone riding the train for free, but I never saw any...I often thought about hopping into one of the boxcars and going for an adventure, but what little common sense I had always won out...sometimes common sense takes all the fun out of life...the trains always had a special smell as they went by...better to me surely than the French perfume worn by the ladies of the evening in downtown Paris no doubt...they would pass five or six times a day and without fail, I would be there to greet it...there was a small restaurant next to the side of the tracks...I always found it funny that if you were dining there and a train passed, the salt and pepper shakers on the table would begin dancing like they were at the Apollo Club from the vibration of the iron horse...the train’s horn would blast at the last moment before it passed over the crossing and as it came through ERRRRRRRRRRRN! and it would scare the hell out of those who were train horn virgins, virgins at least at an intimate distance...everyone would sit and look out the window at the train, and after it passed, the conversation would pick up where it left off, as if nothing had ever occurred...but eventually, my aunt and uncle moved to some a-dult or a-dolt community in Arizona...but that is how things are...life goes on whether you like it or not...there were no more chances to race to the train tracks, no more lazy days for empty country back road sojourns on my motorcycle anymore...I had since moved out of state and many years later, my wanderings took me back to that area... the train tracks were gone...the trains no longer passed by...that’s happening all over the country and maybe that’s why we’re in such sad shape...I stopped by the old crossing and got out of the car...all that was left was a few small piles of stones leftover...I walked a little bit and saw an old railroad tie laying in the weeds, forgotten and no longer needed just like some empty candy wrapper discarded after it outlived its usefulness...the restaurant had been shuttered and judging by its appearance, for quite a while...damn.