Jul 11, 2007

Yet Another Penis...er...Train Post

Sorry, was feeling a little Freudian there.

Yesterday was an off day for me. Not off from work but off as in terrible. Too much work, to little sleep. The black had been hovering just out of view most of the day, waiting for it's opportunity to leap headlong onto me, a feral Hobbs to my weary Calvin.

I heard a train coming, a heavy one, moving like an old fat man in a crowded hallway, and I went up front to watch it roll by. I was waiting on one of the nurses to finish fiddling her way through a supply requisition and I knew she'd be a while, knew I had no real rush. There is something solemn about that rumble, that sound that comes up through the feet and the chest. That sound takes me, briefly, out of my troubles and makes me for just a moment a ten year old boy, burnt brown by the summer sun. Standing barefoot in the hot dust, my eyes round, waving as hard as I can as that huge mechanism of steel and hot machinery smell and huge steel wheels rumbles by, sounding it's horn like Gabriel's trump of Doom forthcoming.

This time it was two yellow and black Union Pacific engines, butt to butt, and then a mile or more of quarry cars, sort of middle-height steel boxes, all creosote brown with dirt and wear, one after the other after the other, no variation, just the same car endlessly repeated at 45 miles an hour. I was thinking 'what a marvelous picture that would make.' There's a spot way down the highway from the office where there is nothing but open space between the road and the tracks; I knew if I could get far back enough and at a certain angle to the train it'd be beautiful. Aperature wide open like that little boy's eye, eager to absorb all of the sight...two splashes of yellow and black, a plume of dark smoke, the silver of the sunlight reflecting off the polished tops of the rust-brown tracks, the dark green of the trees behind the train, the bright green of the grass in front of the train, the twin greys of the roadbed, and that looooong, uniform stretch of black-brown cars.

I'm saddened at times when I think of how many wonderful pictures go missed, or maybe even unseen. I had to wonder if anyone else looked at that train, headed to wherever. I wondered about the people that might see it pass, there on the highway or further down, maybe framed by trees, or passing over an old wooden trellis. I wondered if they would see the art in it, or even actually SEE it for that matter. Were they just going to register it's presence and go on with their day? Were they going to curse it for making them late for work or an appointment? How many little boys or girls sitting in the back seat of their parent's sedan were going to see it and quietly count each car, marveling as I did at the sight?

I wanted to be out in the sun and the wind, chasing with them.

10 comments:

Nancy Dancehall said...

You make _us_ see them. Thank you. :-)

meno said...

I am remembering the thrill of a passing train and waving madly at the guy in the caboose trying to get him to wave back.

Schmoopie said...

My brother and I used to count the cars together. Thanks for jogging my memory. What fun that was! :)

Irrelephant said...

Nancy, I'm glad I'm good for that, at least. Helps when I'm deep in the existential blues.

Meno, isn't that something great to recall? They haven't been used in decades, but what a thing to lose--those bright red, cheerful, odd little cars stuck at the end. Long gone.

Schmoopie, you're very welcome. I grew up knowing that being a kid was something I really didn't want to give up, so...I didn't. It's a source of aggravation to some, at times, but I won't ever let go. And yes, I've been known to count a train or two after photographing them. *wink*

Scott from Oregon said...

We used to poop directly on the tracks and then would return to see just how far our poop was spread....

Jean said...

Was going to try to leave something touching to match your sweet post... then I read Scott's comment. gakkkk. :)

Irrelephant said...

He's good like that, ain't he Jean?

Jean said...

yup... cain't hep but luv im. heh.

Rayne said...

The house I grew up in was right across the street from the train tracks. I loved hearing the train go by at night. It was comforting and was one of the things I missed when I moved away from home. The house we live in now is just the right distance from the tracks. On nights I can't sleep I sit out on the deck and I can hear the slow rumble and the whistle and I feel safe and comforted.

Irrelephant said...

Rayne, isn't it funny how the human mind can grow so accustomed to certain things that they become necessities? Even something as noisy and erratic as a train's passage becomes a comfort.

Me, I can't live without the sound of cicadas singing in the summertime anymore.