15 March, 2009

on trains and memories

I still haven't rectified the lack of March photos...

But I've been busy. And I've been catching myself thinking about things from long ago. Maybe it's the fact that I'm now staring my future in the face and I can't figure out what to do, maybe it's just that I can hear the train at night while in my room, trying to go to sleep.

I miss the train. Trains and water bodies...

Okay, so granted, that's not the correct water body, but it's still a train. Our family cabin, on a tiny speck of a lake between Edmonton and Edson, was on the CN Rail main line. ... which means there's constant train traffic. Or, well, not CONSTANT, but... you get the picture, there were a lot of trains. I loved the train. I loved hearing the horn sound, and the echoed rush of cars and wheels over steel tracks. I loved the way the sound was amplified as it rung out across the lake. And every time I hear a train, I think of that.

Thankfully I don't think of my poor cousin, who, at the age of two, couldn't hack it with the trains. Sure, everything was fine during the day, we were playing, and there's so much fun to be had in the sand piles and grassy lawn of the Lake that your average toddler hardly bats an eye at the sound of the train horn. BUT at 2am, it's a different story, there's nothing saving you from that awful "twain" and oh did we all begrudge him his fear. There's nothing quite like being woken up by a 2-year-old with an irrational fear of trains EVERY TIME the train went by (and it went by more than once an hour some nights. Eventually we would be able to convince him that the train wasn't going to hit our cabin since we weren't on the track, but it took a lot of talk sometimes, and a lot of tears and anguished screams too (which kept us all up).

But, as I said, thankfully that's not what I remember. What I remember when I think of trains is the absolute stillness of everything. That twilit calm that settles over prairie water bodies. The cackle of grebes and the distant clunking of what I always assumed was a coffee urn over a fire (I never did find out what the sound was)... That and the clunk of our wood stove. I think of those memories when I think of trains. And I miss them so much, and want to wrap them around me like the greatest of all blankets. But I can't, they float in my head like so much flotsam on the shore of the lake. And I want to chase after them, scoop them out, with each sounding of the train horn, but, like the horn call itself, every memory is fleeting, living but for a moment in my mind, before it is flushed back amidst the other scurf washing up on shore. And I drift off to sleep in a mixture of indistinct memories and thoughts of what's going to happen in the coming months.

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