|Do you like train whistles?|
They are like a lullaby to me. There is something mournful about a distant whistle, like a dove's coo.
Years ago when I was landscaping the Helena house, my girly muscles rebelled against the heavy grunt work so I set off to the "shelter" to find a willing worker. A wiry older man said he would be willing to make a few bucks. His name was Lew and he called himself a Hobo. Lew didn't appear to be a druggie or a drunk, like most of the shelter people, and he had a keen mind. I tried to quiz him a little about his personal life but he would only say he "rode the rails" and he would leave after he made some money.
I worked outside with him all summer and every time he heard a train whistle, he stopped his work and listened with a dreamy, faraway look in his eyes. He would announce what train line it was and go back to his work. He said he knew all the train whistles.
I kept asking why he had to be a Hobo since we are a long way from the thirties. He just said he HAD to be and every time he heard a whistle, he wanted to leave. Then, one day in late August, Lew came to work and surprised me with a gorgeous bouquet of flowers. He thanked me for giving him a job but this would be his last day.
We had accomplished some beautiful gardens and stonework and he was leaving to sit in a boxcar with a meager bag of belongings. It was really difficult for me to understand...... me, who needs rock gardens and clothes lines as signs of permanency.
It wasn't until this summer, when I was eliminating the total sum of my possessions, that I remembered Lew and his urgency to ride the rails. I didn't want to hop a boxcar but I felt a strong sense of freedom with each truckload I dropped off at the thrift store.
Yup, I didn't quite understand him but Lew was a nice man.
Are you a hobo or earthbound?