Love trains

 DC sceneDSCN4055quickie pic from back of train when detachedDSCN4249

Short-story genre: Prose

Train Ride Back East in Autumn 2012: On My Way to DC 

DSCN4251As I look out my Amtrak window sitting cosily in my guest-blue colour roomette there is an embankment: I see.

I see; majestic all-knowing beauties beginning to appear in a dance of sequential wonderment before a tired self.DSCN4067

I realize it is trees — these trees; swaying past my vision, in their all glory; who are going to be, my companions, on this unusual journey before me.

Trees, trees and more trees: as if going on forever—“Shall Comfort Me” they say to me. DSCN4068

I perk up doubting I’d been spoken to; and, DSCN4224suddenly; a mill, spilling its ground-up sandy wood pulp into the train’s side; sawdust in the air. Disheartened I feel as it breaks my thoughts,DSCN4101but, the train, continues.

Commandingly to first station it goes.

Everett, Washington is in sight.  We’re well on our way now.DSCN4091

Time moves. I’m unsure how long has passed.

At Shelby Montana we stop. It’s snowing. Cold, very cold. DSCN4182Some Albertans disembark to yell and smoke.

A lovely man named Gul appears in front of me and says he is assigned to me.

He is a most wonderful maître-d’. Taking him in it strikes me that he might have been a child of parents of partition India, with his delicate manner and a subtle recognition in his eyes of the immense spiritual history of train travel. Interested in people so very astute to the point of knowing to have a glass of champagne poured for me canal overflowing...almostjust, so.

Pure poetry he achieves as he places the glass on a linen white napkin; under my comfort rectangular-window DSCN4066beneath the expanse of the sky.

A sky; a sky golden which is to be yet another of my journey’s friends; as its moving and exquisite color shows itself to me at this train’s juncture. I am delighted.

DSCN4218Misty dusk approaches, getting on now for five in the evening now.

A soft sound of the train horn breaks the emotion-contained silence as we pull east.

“Supper time ” Gul commands me again.

“Oh yes” I say. “Food for the core is to be had in the dining car”.

And it was to be eaten ever so happily by me; then returning to my roomette; and cleverly nipping into the shower when others were still chomping and drinking.

Under the soothing blue light that doesn’t turn off above my head I peer to the outside again.

My peripheral catches the romance of another train passing by in the opposite direction. nice8

Then white light: maybe stations; maybe just features along the rail line lending a helping hand, the strong steel ‘animal’ smoothly making time east.

America is beautiful. Don’t let anyone tell you it’s not.

As my train crackles along the deep worn tracks stealthily, courageously into the night; tears well down my face, music plays in the background and I think about whatever residue faith I may have left in me.

I sense a kind of Spirit engulf me but then I think “Ah just being silly again.

“Trees don’t talk right, trees don’t hug you”.

Alas they did: Me—that day.

We stop again. Folks get out to smoke again; others to stretch their legs.

Grain silos stand politely in the distance. DSCN4207

Chilly passengers recollect themselves after a short while. Satisfied now. DSCN4084

And we press on.

It’s the old side of towns we get to see from trains. Indescribably raw. DSCN4209

U.S.A is poor in appearance, in parts, especially through North Dakota; sights that one might have the occasion to read about in a novel.  But here, from my rectangular window, more vivid, ever so more vivid I gaze into the soul of the night to see what it has to teach me.

Damp from the corridor I return to my window. Safe again.

Pitch dark outside, barely able to see even the silhouette of even the branches now.

DSCN4238

Blood red sky.North Dakota sky - Copy

North Dakota. Home of American Indians.North Dakota sky

Images pass through my mind of them fighting to protect themselves. Their land. A land so plentiful with oil.DSCN4202

Oil that is so voraciously, wanted and desired, and with an angry vengeance, by all those who surround it. But with “The Indian” in the way.

“God bless the Indian” I murmur, between Stanley and Williston.DSCN4232

DSCN4213On the east side of Williston, I manage to fumble for my camera to take photographs of North Dakota’s oil rigs and their flame fires; only visible with a squint.

Oil, oil and more oil in North Dakota.DSCN4204

I witness tens and tens of freight trains. “Liquefied-Petroleum-Gas” I read plastered on jet black or orange rust-coloured cars;clambering by; in the opposite direction. DSCN4227

How many times we waited for the freight trains! They get first dibs on the old tracks. Business before people; is the way on the Amtrak; these days. Not owning the tracks, [ourselves the public that is], csxwe must beckon to higher authority.

It’s Burlington Northern Santa Fe—BNSF that runs things in these parts; with their cargoes and their boxes of chemicals.

freight - oil - NDCleaning products, fertilizers, black cylinders containing this and that. I noticed black cylinder cars as early as of Spokane, WA. I confirm to myself how they became more numerous through Montana and onwards.

DSCN4230DSCN4210

Suddenly and eerily a shocking sight then appears…thousands of horses crammed in a pen.

“For what?” I imagine. It hits me like a freight train. “They’re, for food! Horses destined to be—food” I scream out loud in my mind.

A dreadful thought. One in my mind from which, like the horses, I could not escape.

But I knew I was right. Why else would so-many-horses be in a pen squashed to that degree.

It was their place before execution. Feed-lots.

Then I remembered that I’d seen an article, the ban on killing horses for food had been lifted in certain States.

Poor struggling States no doubt.

St Cloud, Minnesota; it was.

Bleak. “A kind of Hell” I thought.  Factories run down, no longer functioning. Crushed cars on top of one another; everywhere.DSCN4223

d ipod pics 332DSCN4217CP freight cars. Yes.

Yes, indeed. Canadian-Pacific, with government of Canada, printed right across them; parked abandoned, looking surreptitiously alongside the railway.

I choose to nap.

I awake.

The train is dormant. “We’re ten minutes out of St. Paul, Minnesota” I hear on the channel box.DSCN4114

“Did you know that the Mississippi River can be seen for an hour and a bit out of St. Paul?” I pretend to speak to someone listening. Should I care. Yes, No? d ipod pics 334

But up again, to the dining cart, I go.

“Rather luckily” I thought; I then meet Elsie Dodge, a children’s book author from Denver Colorado. She’s a special needs teacher. She carries a teddy bear. Permanently. That’s how she does it. Gets through this life. She’s the one with the smile.

Getting closer to the East now. Nature’s features are beginning to change and modify. The seasonal traits, I recognize from childhood, in Montreal.

Starting to see the maple trees, and their rust -colored leaves I love, through my rectangular window now.

Tributaries of the Mississippi seemingly going on forever. Then more maples; in Portage, Wisconsin—just breathtaking.Mississippi River

Before the destination we move through what I know to be the old stomping grounds of American Civil War soldiers; back in 1850.

I look to see for any colonial fixtures that were still standing. There are some.

We move out of the country as sneakily and clandestinely as we’d moved into it.DSCN4233

Now scenes of urban life, begin to appear, outside my rectangular window. I know my stop is near. I pack up and plan my exit unto a pavement that I’d left so many days ago.

We arrive. I float to solid ground. My soul incubated with the images I’d seen.

They grace my memory, now and forever.

I love that train, now behind me.

Hear me now. Take a long, long train ride. Never be the same.

Thank you, Maple.

Thank you, Sky.

Thank you, Pine.

Thank you, Indians of North Dakota.

Thank you, Gul.

Until Next Time.   #IdleNoMore

DSCN4147cap hill 2

~

By Diane Walsh

© mediageode 2012

Diane Walsh in Washington DC Friendship Lodge

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