Friday, January 7, 2011

Project 365 - On the Rails

Not far from the house I grew up in, ran the rails.  From my earliest memory, they held a sort of forbidden fascination for me.  The neighborhood kids had been cautioned about playing on or around the rails, not so much because of the danger of being hit by a train, as the trains ran infrequently, but because of the possibility of running into the people who still called the rails their home.

I'm not quite sure what actual experience my parents had had with rail riders, but they had quite effectively described them as nare-do-wells that were definitely up to no good and best avoided.  Perhaps this was a lingering ghost of the depression and those unfortunates that jumped trains looking for work.  I never ran into a rail rider.  I do know that if there had been any in residence along the tracks near my home, I would have met them.  I was on those tracks most every day.  Something wonderful about forbidden fruit, I guess.

I followed the tracks to new worlds.  If you turned left where they crossed my street, eventually you would find yourself remarkably close to a Dairy Queen.  Nothing better to save your pennies for on a hot summer day.  If you turned right, the tracks departed the close proximity of houses and took you to a land that I had named Acadia after falling in love with the Longfellow poem, "Evangeline". Open and pristine at any time of year.

Often I traveled in a gang of curly haired little girls.  We morphed into tiny explorers and pioneers the minute our Keds hit the rail bed.  We built forts along the way, protected most frequently from other little girls rather than the marauding gangs we were sure lurked just out of sight.  We performed on the stages of outdoor theaters formed by the rocks, clearings, and woods that hugged the rail bed.  The rails were a perfect blend of imagination and childhood wonderlust.

This afternoon, my camera and I traveled across these rails and I wondered how long it might take me to find myself transported into far flung lands.  Should I turn right or left....