Coal train headed south 10 October 2008
I live in a small town with a major east-west highway on one side and railroad tracks on the other. (Yep, it's pretty noisy sometimes. I like it though.) There are only about 700 people living in this town. It's mostly a farm community. One only has to walk for a short distance to be in fields and woods.
(One of my favorite places to walk, which is pretty near here.)
There is a lot of wildlife out here. I see hawks and eagles on a nearly daily basis, and deer and antelope at least once a week. There is a mother deer whose twin fawns I saw for the first time back in the spring--they were running along the road and I was worried they were going to get hit. However, I've seen them many times since then, and now the fawns have lost their spots and are nearly grown. The last time I saw the three of them together they were resting in an open wood next to the "old highway" where I like to ride my motorcycle. It was a really nice sight; the cottonwoods' leaves were turning gold and the grass was long and green. The three deer were completely at ease in the shadow of a great twisted old tree.
Anyway: I usually stay up working until the wee hours of the morning, and when I stop working I like to take my little dog and go down to the post office to get my mail. It's always nice and quiet then. There are a lot of old buildings in this town that have been around since "old West" times. Some of them are still in use and some are boarded up. (Some of them are haunted, too!)
I will walk through town, usually, to go to the post office and then walk back along the old highway. There are these old buildings on one side and then fields, some abandoned granaries, and the railroad tracks on the other side. It's very dark in this area and a good place to star gaze. I see meteors almost every night, and such features as the Milky Way and the Pleiades are easy to see out there
On this particular evening/morning--I think it was about three in the morning, but I'm not sure, me and Bentley (that's my dog) were walking down the highway going back home after picking up the mail. The half moon was near the western horizion, getting ready to slip behind the hills. It was very quiet: No cars, no people, just the breeze causing the grass to rustle.
Then a group of coyotes started to howl. It sounded like there were at least ten of them and that they were very close--I imagine that they were in the woods behind the granaries, about 200 yards, off, but of course it's hard to tell--coyotes' voices carry for great distances.
I always like to hear the coyotes. I had been hearing this particular bunch for several nights now. This was the closest they had ever been. I stopped to listen to them. Of course Bentley was very interested, and also sort of afraid, I think. I'm not going to say that I wasn't a little worried myself; coyotes will sometimes attack domestic pets and even occasionally a person, but out here there's plenty of game for them to eat, and also--coyotes are smart, they know these things--people are much more likely to have guns.
Then at that moment a train started to approach from the north. Coal trains go through here several times a day; they're always empty when they're going north (to Wyoming and Montana) and full when they are going south. The train's headlamp was very bright and swallowed the night, illuminating everything for hundreds of feet on each side.
The coyotes were very excited about this for whatever reason--there was a total cacaphony of yipping and yowling at the approach of this train.
The train barrelled by going about 50 mph, the tracks groaning under the weighted-down cars. With the coyotes howling and the train blasting its horn, and the great headlamp blazing like a vision in the dark, it was quite an experience.
Once the train had passed I couldn't hear the coyotes anymore. That made me a bit nervous so instead of staying on the old highway next to the fields and abandoned buildings, I cut back into town and walked the rest of the way home.
yours in Chaos, Scarlett
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