TRAINS

ON THE WAY – WEEKLY PHOTO PROMPT

My son took these pictures on a slow, rainy train journey through the swamps and woods of the Blackstone Valley. They have lain here, in my files, waiting for a time to properly present them. A little processing to make them more painterly … and they are ready.

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The tracks are old and narrow and the train, which runs once a week and goes from one yard to another, never exceeds five miles per hour.

DEPENDING ON TRAFFIC

I haven’t gotten out much during the past 6 weeks. Since the first blizzard at the end of January, merely walking up the icy driveway to the car has been a big deal. Roads have been icy, air bitterly cold. Visibility down to zero as the snow falls. Crazy drivers who think their SUV makes them immune to weather, who then have accidents which tie up traffic for hours.

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It’s a mad, mad, mad world on the highway, but here in the U.S.A., we love our cars and will drive them no matter what. Besides, a lot of places, you don’t have any choice. Small town America has no public transportation. Not even a taxi. You drive or you walk. Most of us drive.

Today, I had to get to the doctor’s office. It’s a 45 minutes drive, more or less, depending on traffic. As soon as I said “depending on traffic,” I realized Garry and I say that every time we go anywhere. It doesn’t matter what time of year, either. One way or another, it always depends on traffic.

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How much time do we spend in our cars? How many weeks and months do we spend sitting, waiting for traffic to clear?  What percentage of our lives do we waste maddened by slow drivers, distracted drivers, stoned or drunk drivers, and plain old bad drivers? I’m sure it’s a calculable percentage for someone sophisticated in statistics. Not me, but someone.

Add together the vagaries of traffic and delays caused by weather — rain, wind, snow, ice, heat. Adding factor “X” to time allowed to travel anywhere from a quick trip to the grocery, to a doctor’s appointment, concert, or 1000 mile driving holiday. Visiting friends, going to work, coming home. Life depends on traffic.

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We try to make appointments for times when traffic is light, but no matter how carefully you plan, you can’t control construction, rubbernecking, accidents, or a jack-knifed semi. Or a road flooded by a river risen over its banks or a road which dead-ends at a washed-out bridge.

Whether it’s ice on the road, high winds on the bridge, or a flat tire changer on the expressway — at rush hour — planning only gets you so far. The rest depends on traffic.

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Roads

From the city to the country and back again, this is a nation of roads. Americans are wedded to their wheels, their trucks and cars. We can’t imagine a world without a road to get from here to there, wherever here is, wherever there may be. There absolutely must be a road … because we are defined by our roads.

No road? Impossible. That would be un-American.

WHEREVER THE ROADS GO

old number 2

It’s hard to believe, but it’s been two years since I visited my favorite old fire engine. He’s right where I last saw him. In the vacant area across from the post office.

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Harder to spot him from the road, now because the bushes and brush have grown around him. Enclosing him tightly in overhanging branches, wildflowers and weeds closing around his old tires.

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There’s a little memorial nearby in memory of lost firefighters, the Worcester fireman and the 9/11 first responders. And a few locals, too. I don’t know if anyone but me visits any more.

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Old Number 2, with all his memories, is slowly being forgotten by everyone. Except, I guess, me.

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HONORABLE RETIREMENT – OLD NO. TWO