Granted, when I was little, my mom would roll down the car windows when we came to a train crossing so that we could listen to the thunder of the wheels on the track. It was always rather exhilarating to hear and feel that power rolling on. We would always make a game out of counting the train cars when we went on a road trip. At the time, my favorite part was waving to the guy in the caboose. Mom grew up on a farm very near a railroad track (much as I have now) and enjoyed waving to the engineers. Much later, she met one of the engineers she had waved at!
I, on the other hand, grew up in town, a long way from the track. I've always been a fairly light sleeper. So, when I went with my (then to-be) husband and his family to the bluegrass festival at Winfield, I got a rude awakening. Several times a night. Obviously, tent fabric doesn't stop noise.
See, the bluegrass festival is held at the Cowley County Fairgrounds, right next to the railroad track. Since it runs through town, and trains have to blow their whistles (more on this in a minute) at every crossing, it could have been a nightmare if I could have stayed asleep long enough to dream. Well, we kept going (since great music can sometimes trump no sleep) and I gradually got used to sleeping through the trains. Somehow I still managed to hear my very quiet alarm going off to let me know it was feeding time for the babies.
So now I live close to the track. Some trains rumble through hard enough to rattle the windows. Some breeze through and you can hear the whistle of their passing. Some decide to stop on the track as I'm in the truck at the crossing. It never fails--the minute I turn around to take a different route, no matter how little or long I've waited, by the time I get back round to the house, the train is either moving or gone.
I have come to find the trains comforting. Every engine has its own whistle tone, and every engineer has their signature whistle. I've been able to remember several so far. I love to hear that thunder, and my kids love to watch too. Now they clamor at me to "roll the windows down, mom! We want to hear the train!" Sure, some of the engineers get a little too creative at 1 in the morning, but the comforting rumble of the wheels soon soothes me.
photo from wikimedia
About the only day I haven't heard many trains was on Christmas Day, but on all the other holidays, they're going strong. Thanks to all the linemen who keep our goods moving: day and night, fair weather and foul, holiday or not. You're helping all of us. You're the arteries of America.