Thursday, November 25, 2010


The third night in our new home, I hear the police siren. Or an ambulance. Fire truck, maybe. Though, I think I can differentiate. That it took three days surprises me.

Two weeks pass before the patter of mouse in the walls conjures a smirk. Guess if you move from one farmhouse to another, even if it's from a rural to an urban setting, there's no escaping the little creatures. Particularly not as the trees strip themselves bare. We all seek warmth once that happens.

Admittedly, I haven't heard him since.

Tonight is the first night I miss my old farmhouse. Not because of the mouse that kept me company there on and off. Nor because I wish I were back there. I love where we now reside. It's 'cause rain is falling as I lie in bed and type this. My son snores softly in the next room, oblivious to the storm stirring outside. Water droplets hit the roof as hard as they can, but see, this roof isn't made of tin. I sigh.

The wind howls like an injured wolf. In their frames, my bubbled glass rattles. Three or four days ago it was 13 degrees celcius here. A balmy day for late November and highly unusual. Moreso because Vancouver, which generally prides itself as the warmer climate, has been inundated with snow the past week. Mother Nature flipped her eggtimer upside down and reversed the status quo for the moment.

Is that my recycling bouncing all over the front porch? I'm afraid to check in case I get clocked by a can of Guinness. My uncle would have said there are worse ways to die than that, even if it's empty of black gold. My eyes jump to the ceiling as the roof moans. I tell myself hurricanes don't happen in the winter. Of course, in the winter, what happens are snowsqualls. And that is what the weather calls for tonight. That old witch's got one wicked courier service and she's delivering right on time.

One sound I never heard lying in my former abode is car wheels splashing through rain puddles as they pass. Hail showers against the glass, as though some giant is wandering through the streets and hurling tiny pebbles at the second-story windows of homes.

I think about Dorothy. At least I have some red footwear if the house is lifted up into the eye of some tornado. I've traded my rural wellies for something a tad more civilized. Still, I wonder where we'd land?

The tin roof I mourn. Crickets, too. But one sound erases any regret I may feel (and I don't feel much at all about having left my rural habitat). It's one I haven't heard for a decade: the train whistle. My new home is close enough to tracks that when that whistle blows, its haunting notes reach through the panes and caress my cheek, wipe any tears away, touch my lips. Close my lids.

I am lulled to sleep as the train rolls through town and its wheels meet the small space that divides each separate rail. Cli-clack. Cli-clack. Cli-clack.

My grandfather on my father's side drove trains all around Ireland. The love of them is in my blood, I guess. Passed down through the genes. Trains are the sound of home to me. As though it's my heart the engineer opens and shovels coal into, stoking the flames higher. Despite hail, sleet, snowsquall, mice, we are safe. We are cozy. We are home now. Finally, my body surrenders to slumber.

"Goodnight," whisper the train wheels as they kiss the steel.

"Sleep tight, sleep tight, sleep tight. So long..."


Music: Gordon Lightfoot, Canadian Railroad Trilogy


Joan said...

Wonderful writing. Love those red boots. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic boots. And I love your sentence, "Mother Nature flipped her eggtimer upside down and reversed the status quo for the moment", it's beautiful.

CJ xx

Susan Fish said...

I wondered about hurricanes last night too. And I also love the trains in the night - a haunting sound. One passes around 11 and another around 12 - depending on the night, one or the other signals my bedtime. And I am sorry about the loss of the tin roof. We had one at our old house too and I miss it on rainy nights too.

Ciara said...

Gorgeous post, Nancy!(LOVE those red boots of yours.)

And when (note I said When?) you visit me you'll be delighted to know that the train rolls right past my front door. Not so often as to be too much. Just the right number of times a day. And those Sundays in the summer that we hear the STEAM TRAIN whistle as it leaves the station in the next town, well, we are like lunatics running around, gathering everyone into the garden to wave and wave and wave and every time, without fail, I cry....

What is it? (I've a lump in my throat as I type.) Why do trains have this effect on us. Even in his sleep My Smallest raises his hand to a passing train, and my heart is squeezed at the sight.

We have snow right now. Unheard of normally at this time of year for this part of the world, and because of this our hearts are filled with magic...

the b in subtle said...

I believe your hearts would be filled with magic, regardless, Ms. Ciara. :) Yes. WHEN. when when? It will happen. Did you hear from our mutual friend yet?

Thanks, Joan, CJ and Susan. Susan maybe we need to make ourselves tin hats and go stand in the downpours ourselves? (Or just expose our tin hearts?)

Anonymous said...

I love your idea of making a tin hat and standing in the rain! There's so much we could hear if we could only listen completely.

Perhaps a creative tin sculpture outside your bedroom window would capture the memories and the droplets and return gentle new thoughts and sounds to soften this transition...

Kerry O'Gorman said...

Seems like you were having visions of Ireland as well when you wrote this. I really love your writing and visiting your world. I hope your son is doing well after his procedure. Love your city boots and 'Message to Bears'. thanks for the tip!