Monday, September 12, 2011

Train Ride

The things which the child loves remain
In the domain of the heart until old age.

The most beautiful thing in life is that our souls linger
Over the places where we once enjoyed ourselves.

~ Kahlil Gibran

What childhood place of joy still remains in the domain of your heart?

I will never outgrow the miniature train at the park, and I still enjoy my choo-choo rides as much today as I did way back when.  Come travel with me around the track.            


Train Ride

Weekends, the conductor stands at the gate
in his striped cap, cigarette perched between
his lips, collecting fare from kids and a few
adults along for the ride.  When I hand him
my buck fifty, he knows I’m in for the long haul.
Ten rounds of breeze in my face, the same
gray canal reflecting trees and sky,
and in the midst of all this,
pasture-green grass.

A momentary tunnel we pass before

seeing the light, the dark so fleeting we
hardly notice it’s there except for the screams,
fierce but brief.  The whistle blows as
we pass the gate yet again
where parents wait, smiling
and waving back at their children.
Forgetting to be an adult, I wave
as well, relish the thrill of being in motion
while they stand still.

Like a homecoming queen, I wave with my
elbow to passing cars on Raleigh Road.
Who knows where the conductor will be
tomorrow when the train is closed.  If he’s
like me he’ll go back to his Monday routine,
traveling in circles with the globe.

What youthful fun do you still enjoy with playful abandon?

“Train Ride” was first published in the literary anthology, Traveling Time.


  1. Swings are still magical . . . perfect for flying. Colouring books and crayons, ice cream cones and beachcombing and collecting pretty rocks. So good to stop and think about these things.

  2. I really liked the line 'ten rounds of breeze in my face' sums up that feeling reckless abandonment we have as kids. I still like watching movies as much now as I did when I was a kid but not as much as I like making up stories. This was what I loved most - talking to myself or playing make believe with my younger sister.

  3. Andrea Dawn – swings, check. Ice cream cones, check. Beachcombing and collecting shells and rocks, check… Things we’ll never outgrow :-)

  4. Brenda – you and me girl. That’s why we’ve connected so. Those imaginations that won’t quit…making up stories since childhood. Did you have an imaginary friend? That would be a fun subject to discuss.

  5. Wow! Such kindred spirits I find here!! All of those things are my favorites!!

  6. Let's go down memory lane.

    Also stop by and share with us:

  7. @ Judie – all of the above: my favorites too.

    @ Marie – I just did go down memory lane, but I’ll check yours out too.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  8. I have always been enchanted by trains. Maybe it is because in growing up, we had tracks at the bottom of our street and the wails of the freight train whistles were more of a comfort to me in the middle of the night than a mournful, lonesome sound they make for most.

    Debra, I loved your imagery of the children's train ride; we had one just like it at Zoo Atlanta. I cherished it as a child and so did my children; can't wait until my granddaughter is old enough to take her there!

    My granddaughter makes it so easy to reconnect with the simple joys of childhood - clapping hands, being silly, dancing like no one is looking, and singing as if it never matters who hears! When we are at risk for losing our precious childhood joys, God sends us grandchildren. :)

    Blessings, my friend!

  9. Martha, your comments are always enlivening! I live near the tracks in an historic district. You should see Miss Railroad! Someone sculpted a statue that sits at the train station of a woman waiting for the train. I may get a photo someday soon and show you this phenomenal work of art.
    Trains, swings, ice cream cones, sandboxes, animated movies, any childhood fun keeps us youngish, don’t you think? And yes! The grandkids do a good job :-) I’ll bet you teach the little one some darling songs! “I’m bringing home a bumble bee, won’t my mama be so proud of me…”

  10. The docks and the boat, the boat moving back and for with the current, the smell of the salty air. That is what does it for me.

  11. Jan, I can see it now, waves rocking the boat and the smell of the ocean!

  12. What JOY!! And do you blow bubbles and skip and twirl, too? Oh, how I wish you lived on my street, my magical, childhood, open-heart friend!:)

  13. Brynne, I CAN still skip! But have you noticed that lots of grownups have forgotten how? I’m skipping over to your magical house now. Have the bubbles and wands ready!

  14. Although it's no longer part of my reality like your train, I grew up surrounded by a forest. I do love forests of all kinds as they exist today but this one had a tree shaped like a "D" and one as a "V" beside it. the "D" was actually the inspiration for my first novel's cover so I guess it still does exist, just not how it once was.

  15. @ Sarah - the enchanted forest continues to intrigue
    on the cover of your first novel, which I would love to read!

    @ Janu – Thank you!

  16. I forgot to tell you one most important detail....I ADORE YOU!!!

  17. beautiful post again Debrah. As for me I still get a thrill out of swings, feels like I am flying!

  18. I always enjoy reading your posts and go back to them again and again. Loved this one, I love going on all the rides at the amusement parks, the scarier the better :)

  19. Debra, that was so sweet. I could see you perched on the train squinting into the breeze.
    One of my favorite things was raking a huge pile of colorful leaves together and then jumping into them;)

  20. Debra you ask great questions...
    being in a house filled of music, parties and dancing I would then have to say music. Listening and playing,,, trains? if it is a long trip a bed would be nice.


  21. Train travel used to be so exciting for us as kids, Debra. And with my Dad being posted to different places, thanks to the Army, we took many train rides - some that lasted two nights....We had the best family time - parents, three kids and a dog!! Thanks for bringing back the memories with your lovely poem.

  22. A couple of weeks ago my best friends son went on a journey to York where he spent the day finding his wy around a maze. The part of his day that he still talk about today was his first time on a train. He absolutely loved it.

  23. I love sitting in a patch of sun getting lost in a good book. I'd hide away on the porch and read the summer away.

    I also love the carousel. The sound of carousel music is enough to make me smile!

  24. @ lost for words – thank you so much!

    @ Rimly – Swings, me too!

    Sulekkha – Scary rides at the amusement park? You brave soul!
    The hobby horses or the bumper cars are as brave as it gets for me ;-)

  25. @ Leah – It’s almost your season. In just a few weeks you’ll get to rake up a big heap of colorful leaves and jump right in the middle! Whoopee!

    @ Alejandro – Music and sports are the only two professions I can think of where you don’t say, “I’m going to work,” but you say,” I’m going to play.” So dance and play the night away!

    @ Corinne – There’s something magical about trains isn’t there? So much so that I’ve been known to designate a driver to meet us at the train station in a neighboring city so my kids and I could take the train over there, just for the fun of the ride ;-) Thank you for sharing your happy train memories!

  26. @ Larry – the first train ride is total merriment. My first ride on a steam engine was at a town in the Appalachian Mountains, Tweetsie Railroad, where a robbery was staged. Bandits with guns jumped aboard and pretended to hold up the train. Talk about fun! THAT’S where your friend’s son should go.

    @ Karen – Getting lost in a good book is almost as much fun as getting lost in the world of imagination when writing a piece of fiction.
    Carousel rides I will never outgrow either. I can hear that distinct music now. Sweet!

  27. Lovely Debra... Thank you for sharing it with us. :-)

    As I was growing up, we lived across the street from a small tract of trees which led to a stream and up to a fishing pond nearby. As a youth, I spent countless hours at that pond and the surrounding woods; fishing, hiking, and acting out every adventure my inventive little mind could conceive. I still smile driving to my dad's house, and passing that area.


    Have a Blessed Day!

  28. Hi Phil! What an imagination you must’ve had as a boy living near a woods and pond. It was “wilderness territory” with all manner of fierce creatures – yes?
    I grew up in the country and we had a swamp monster living in our woods. Picture that!

  29. This past weekend was a moment out of time with some dear friends who came in from far flung areas across the U.S. We went up to Dollywood (Dolly Parton's theme park in the Smoky Mountains of East TN) and spent the day there. One of the Must Do activities was to ride the steam engine around the park and we did do that. It was just lovely. We had cooler weather, unexpectedly, and the train took us through the mountains for 30 minutes. Not long, but still just a delightful experience. We were covered from head to foot with coal ash by the end of the ride, but that didn't matter. It was a moment we'll all remember, just being together, laughing, and experiencing travel from a bygone era...whilst we all texted and checked our Smart Phones!!! The dichotomy of it all tickled me immensely.

    Lovely post, as always, Debra.

    - Dawn

  30. Dawn, I can see you now, covered from head to foot with coal dust :-) But, oh, wasn’t the ride on the train with dear friends worth a little ash?!
    And the cooler weather, a divine hint of early fall, a sneak preview of chilly autumn evenings.
    I want to go with you next time; will you please take me along for the steam engine ride around the park – pretty please?

  31. Lovely post :)

    following back, thanks for joining my hop :)

  32. Thank you so much for stopping by my blog and giving Frederick his name.

    I'm delighted to meet another grown up still in touch with the wonderment of youth. Those are the sort of people I like to surround myself with.

    I'd love to do a puppet show for you, I'll just have to jump on my magic carpet across the ocean.

    Ah, if wishes were horses, beggars would ride.



  33. Buying sweeties from the Greek at the corner cafe. I went back there last year when I was in South Africa. He aged a lot but he still remembered me. I browsed the sweetie aisle and it brought back such nice memories!

    Nelieta travel blog

  34. Claire Justine – thank you! And what a pleasure to meet you and join the fun!
    Stay in touch, will you?

  35. Diane – Please jump on your magic carpet and ride across the ocean soon ;-) And could you bring Frederick and the others to do a show for the party? We’ll be expecting you...

  36. Nelieta - When you return to South Africa, will you promise to bring me back some sweeties from the Greek guy at the corner café? My mouth is watering right now...

  37. Love train rides, I have lived near the same set of tracks most of my life and the little train in the park. Some year ago I was sitting in my char when a steam locomotive signaled for the crossing just a hundred yards for me. At sixty i jumped out of that char and ran to the tracks. I was four or five again till it went out of site. I was or am a railroader third generation. Love your post

  38. Roy - howdy railroader! I love your charming train memory. I’ll bet you have a few more good ones you could share in a post sometime.
    By the way, how are you doing? Been thinking of you and wondering how everything’s going for you.
    Take it easy and take care of yourself.
    ~ Hugs and blessings

  39. Lovely post as always, Debra. I used to love digging up ants and worms, maybe capturing them for a while in a jar full of dirt, and just watching them do their thing. My mom would never let me keep them overnight, so I would release them back into the wild. ;P

  40. Adriene, digging up ants and worms? Oo-ah! So you loved playing in the dirt ;-)
    I just enjoyed watching ants lift cookie crumbs twice their size and carry them away.
    And I caught fireflies in jars with holes punched in the lid. Of course I’d release them before bedtime and watch them continue flickering here and there.

  41. I'd love to be on that train...As always...XOXOXOXO

  42. Bonnie, come on over and ride with me; it’ll be fun! xoxoxox

  43. I love this poem and especially the line "Like a homecoming queen, I wave with my elbow to passing cars..." What wonderful imagery!! Making snow angels is still something I love to do. :D

  44. To be a kid again... I still love a good swing....

  45. Even now, I find myself alone amongst the trees, lying on my back on the warm yielding earth of summer, the firmament above me, wide and deep through a canopy of trees and me still thinking, even now - 'God lives here' - though I still don't know who or what or why or how ...

  46. Mari – will we ever be too old to pretend? Let’s hope not. May we always wave with our elbow like homecoming queens and make angels in the snow! Always…

  47. BM - Oh would you like to swing on a star
    carry moonbeams home in a jar…

    Every time I think of swings I’m reminded of this old song.

  48. Cathy – you dwell at the edge where heaven and earth collide. Contemplate under the canopy of trees and the wide firmament. Of course God is there, still creating through you!

  49. beautiful reminiscence -- i was right there with you on the train ride. it's not even my memory but i got goosebumps as if it was!

    i love playing in my little house these days. now that the kids are gone, the place reminds me of the tree fort, deep in an enchanted forest, where i imagined living when i was a kid. all mine -- where magical things happen. my garden is 'the secret garden' from one of my favorite childhood books...

  50. Linda, the artist’s way is to see things from a child’s perspective (as you encourage your art students to do), to view a house as a tree fort deep in an enchanted forest, an ordinary garden as a ‘secret garden’…

    The world is full of possibilities when we still have an imagination. No matter how old we grow, may our imaginations remain vivid as when we were children ;-)

  51. Debra - what wonderful imagery you've created here. This really struck me: "Forgetting to be an adult, I wave as well, relish the thrill of being in motion while they stand still." This is such a powerful observation of a child's point of view in an adult's mind, and so true. Love that you bring yourself back to that place again and again.

    When I walk by a playground, I still love taking a turn at the swings. I love the feeling of the wind in my face, the butterflies in my belly as I drop through the air, the total freedom I feel as I climb higher and higher into the sky.

  52. Kristen, don’t you think that most adults are just too self-conscious and too concerned over what others think about them? Imagine a world where we maintain that spontaneity we had before the world was “too much with us,” and where we weren’t embarrassed to skip down the street or wave at spectators from a miniature train, or jump on a swing and reach for the sky!

  53. Cotton candy. It isn't a ride, but getting the old fashioned wound on a tube cotton candy takes me straight back to childhood pleasures. It fills my senses with nostalgia.

    (And I still wave at the caboose on trains when I am at a train stop. And the person in the caboose usually waves back. :D)

    I loved this post Debra...and I love and enjoy your blog so much I picked it when I was responding to an award I received. So I am sharing the love and letting you know. There is no pressure to respond, I am just sharing the liebster. :D

  54. Cath, now that you mention it, cotton candy takes me back to childhood too, with its melt-in-your-mouth pleasure. And of course cotton candy reminds me of nights at the county fair and ferris wheels, roller coasters, and tilt-a-whirls, and all the thrills I could afford in one night ;-)
    Congrats on the Liebster award, and thanks for sharing the honor! I’ll be right over…

  55. I love this quote as it is so true. I grew up in Africa and to this day long for the open game parks watching the wild animals. I rarely go back but it is still vivid in my memory and ingrained in my heart.

  56. Oh, I love lying on the grass and playing under the rain... this goes back a long time ago... and I'd like to do it even now :P

    You bring me back to the years I enjoy so inner child is very playful :P and she loves your posts so well...

  57. Shanda – I wonder what it was like growing up in Africa. Going to the open game park and watching the wild animals. Is it like a zoo? We went to the Washington Zoo while on our honeymoon. Fascinating, viewing the creatures in their simulated natural habitats.

  58. Melissa – I’m thinking of you today while it’s raining here, imagining you splashing around in puddles ;-) Me? I’d prefer to romp in the magical snowflakes, so rarely do they come in the southern USA.
    Your inner child is welcome to come over and play anytime! The door is always open here.

  59. Beautiful quote! There are so many "childlike" things I still enjoy! I think it's sad when people lose that side of themselves completely, like a sort of death...
    Hmm, I love collecting shells on beaches as well, painting with bright bold colors, just generally enjoying being outside.

  60. Colleen, I hadn’t thought about losing the childlike side of ourselves as being like a sort of death, but now that you mention it, yes, it is :-( One of the signs of the inner child’s absence is the inability to skip, I’ve noticed. Have you tried it lately? You should. Just to see if you remember.
    Seashells tell stories when you put the conchs to your ear. You hear the ocean whisper secrets.
    Keep painting with bold bright colors Colleen! Beautiful stuff!

  61. I was away on vacation...what a great post to return to :) I spent many childhood summers at the sea and I still find amazement at the little critters, precious stones and interesting shells I find there. Over the years I have found a new kind of appreciation for the ocean, but still remaining is my child-like wonder at all the amazing things that can be found there.

  62. Jessica, I hope your vacation was restorative and memorable. Speaking of childlike wonder… I remember the first time I ever set foot on the coast of NC at Atlantic Beach. The bright sun, screeching seagulls, roaring waves, feet sinking into warm sand, the vastness of the ocean, what a sense of awe I still feel at the memory of that first encounter with the beach.

  63. Debra, for me it's rag dolls and stuffed bears. Give me one of those and suddenly I'm a child again, protected by the company of a new "friend" and happy as a clam that I have someone to tell my secrets to. Oh, and shells! I must bring back a pretty shell every time I visit the beach. They sit in a small jar and remind me that life can be good. :) Delightful post, friend!


  65. Oh my, what a lovely trip you took us on down your personal Memory Lane! I loved it! I still enjoy going home to the property where I grew up, in spring months. I walk the fields where my grandfather once planted cotton and tobacco, and a huge kitchen garden. All around the perimeter are the remnants of flowers his Mother and sister planted to sell downtown on Market Square. The daffodils and muscaris (we called them miniature grape hyacinths) continue to re-seed the fields and in April and May the fields are blanketed with lemony yellow and lavender blue. It never fails to delight my inner child's heart and eyes, as I was obsessed with flowers when I was wee. I've written many a post about those flower filled days and I've taken that delight into my adult years. Thank you for helping me remember that delight, once again!

    - Dawnie

  66. I have not thought about this train ride, in decades. When I reflect back on carnival rides, I get caught up in ferris wheels that always seem to stall when I am at the apex, or carousels, where those menacing steeds stare holes through my entire being, as if they are casting their demons at me, or those little wooden boats, rickety and swaying, sure to fall apart with me aboard, plunging me into the water, where I can not swim a lick... oh, never mind, the water is only a foot deep, who can hold a rational thought in such a moment of panic?

    But, your train... rolling along in perfect cadence, always returning to the station on time, never going so fast that I could not take in the sights and smells around me... no need to be strapped in for my own safety... and if I wanted to take the trip a second time, there was no conductor to admonish me, and demand another fare. He seemed almost relieved, that of all the ongoing options at the carnival, I would choose to hold on to his little piece of paradise, even for a few moments more.

    Oh, this is a grand poem, Debra.

    1. Thank you Michael. Never outgrow childhood joy. Go back and ride the train again when warmer weather comes. It’s great therapy.


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