Watching…playing…riding trains

by | August 2, 2018 8:08 am

Playl’s Ponderings – By Steve Playl

Annabelle loves to watch the train that circles our Christmas tree, some Christmases. So do her brothers. In fact, all seven of our grandchildren like to watch the train. James David would like for us to leave the train set up year round – Christmas tree or not.

From time to time, they have all enjoyed playing with trains. They have played with everything from wooden, preschool appropriate versions to the big plastic-track kind that go around Christmas trees – and everything in between.

On a recent visit to Nahnee and Papa’s house, James David was exploring. Crawling under the bed in our spare bedroom, he discovered a treasure. An old train set! I had purchased it when his “Uncle Buddy” was a little boy, but it had never found a permanent location in our home that the little train could call its home, so it was relegated to a plastic box under the guest bed.

James David likes to watch real trains, too. From the window seat in Annabelle’s room in their West Virginia home, he can observe coal trains as they exit a mountain tunnel just across the way. And the trains that sometimes block State Street here in Bristol – the ones that are an aggravation for locals, requiring detours to a bridge? Well, if James David happens to be with us, he would much rather look at the freight cars until they start moving again – and then watch them pass – than to find another way to get on the other side of the tracks.

Trains fascinate me, too. Maybe it’s because I was born half a block from the railroad. Or it could be because my mother took us to Nashville on a train when I was a wee lad. Perhaps my treks on the tracks from school to my dad’s business in the afternoons, back then, had an influence on me. It wasn’t safe to walk on the tracks then or now, but we did it. Of course, I wouldn’t think of letting my grandchildren play on the tracks. Also, it is called trespassing, but that’s another story.

Obviously, the best way to travel on the railroad is inside the train. Grayson and Anderson went to Tweetsie Railroad, in North Carolina, last Christmas and rode the “Polar Express.” All of us like to watch the Polar Express movie, even in August.

All of our children and grandchildren have ridden some kind of train, mostly in amusement parks. Sammie and I rode the train at Dollywood when Dollywood was still “Silver Dollar City.” We still ride it every chance we get.

We have made a round trip to Arizona, twice, and several times we’ve commuted in big cities via rail. Whether Dollywood or Amtrak, we ride the rails when the opportunity presents itself. The way our perspective changes, with age, is pretty interesting. As a youngster, I enjoyed watching and playing with trains more than riding them. As an adult I relish the prospect of stretching out and watching the world pass by the window of my coach.

The passing of time brings change to our point of view on many subjects. Trains serve only as a modest example of this truth.

In the third chapter of Ecclesiastes, the “preacher” writes that there is “a time to be born, and a time to die…a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance…a time to get and a time to lose…”

Times change, and so do we. We may enjoy seeing the train whiz by when we’re young. Then, as we get older, we prefer being inside watching God’s creation as it passes our window. Whatever our viewpoint, we need to be aware of Ecclesiastes 3:11, “God makes all things beautiful in His time…”

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