Friday, September 4, 2009

Square 55: Train

Square 055

I spent yesterday afternoon on the train from Guelph to Ottawa. Danny and I have come here for a long weekend away from the usual, but he would be coming down in the evening, so I went alone.

When I was 11 I took my first train trip. My parents took me on Algoma Central Railway's Agawa Canyon Tour Train through a rugged part of Ontario to see fall colour at its most grand and resplendent. I have loved this most of travel ever since.

Railways seem to find the loveliest scenery. This square does not give a literal depiction of the coloured landscape flashing past the windows yesterday, but my impression. It was a glorious summer afternoon, with puffy clouds in the distance and golden sunlight washing the hills and woods. At times the blue-grey expanse of Lake Ontario spread to our right.

An elderly woman from California sat in the window seat beside me. She was touring North America, visiting relatives in Seattle and Idaho en route to a niece in Ottawa. She had taken the train across Canada, but the rollicking trip was uncomfortable and views of the Rocky Mountains disappointing. She said this stretch in easy-moving cars through rolling farmland was the most pleasant so far. As much as I long for new and exotic landscapes, particularly the mountains of the west, I could appreciate her fondness for Ontario.

What is it about a train ride that heightens romance? I could be travelling anywhere for any purpose, but I'm always delighted. Perhaps it is the sense that I will arrive without mishap, or the relative comfort of the passengers over time and distance. The people I meet on trains are generally happy and not in a hurry. We talk about our diverse origins with nostalgia, our destination with anticipation. These are the blessed comings and goings of life, threads crossing and interweaving.


  1. Oh! Those are Earthsea colours! On the happier spectrum of Earthsea, I'd say.

    Beautiful, Van. Hope your visit is magical, too.

  2. Interesting, I hadn't thought of Earthsea, but it fits. This square really feels to me like motion, a journey.