Tag Archives: country

Mad Dash

Public train transportation is the way to travel into the city if you want to ditch the traffic, read a book or fall asleep behind the wheel. Train commuting is a type of home away from home. The MBTA is not the way to travel if you desire consistently being on time, don’t like crowds or require privacy.

The 6:42 a.m. train was a unique scenario as we boarded the now 7:02 a.m. dark passenger cars in Shirley, MA. There was no battery power, lights or air conditioning. The passengers grumbled as they boarded their unreliable steel pool cars. One man in our boarding line read the riot act to the conductor. Said man was riding the rails to catch a 9:15 flight out of Logan. I think half of us were chuckling at the psychotic traveler; he wouldn’t have made that flight on a good day. He was already cutting it way too close for morning Uber traffic, and airport security checks, even if he did arrive in Boston by 8:00. The conductor told him the best bet was to wait for the next train. There were no guarantees and the crew was already hoping this engine would make it to North Station.

Reassured on every level, I made my way to the top of the double-decker.

We pulled into the next station braking with a jolt. Nobody on the train understood what that had to do with no battery. The Ayer passengers embarked complaining about both the lack of power and the man that ran in front of the train. Evidently, someone had crossed the tracks to get to their platform. When the man realized he dropped something, he ran back in front of the oncoming train to pick it up. Everyone waiting on the platform thought they were going to witness a fatal accident. As they boarded, the train was still dark but their trauma was visible. The situation added more time before we were underway again.

The next stop is right off the interstate, and the largest pick up. About 200 people boarded our moving cave and we were on our slow way again without incident.

We arrived at the next depot with incident. Passengers boarded and then the train stayed on the platform. We weren’t moving again. Everyone hedged their bets to either disembark and reboard the next train or wait it out and hope the situation improved. The experienced group I was sitting with knew better, got off the snail and lined up for the following train that would be pulling in any minute. About 300 people were back on the platform and headed to the crossover when the headlight of the the savior train appeared.

The crowd had words for each other as people tried to hurry in front of the next. Everyone jumbled together trying not to be last. The mayhem was railroad “musical chairs”, knowing not everyone would get a seat.

The rest of the ride was uneventful. We were already an hour behind schedule and so many people were standing up, the cars looked more like a subway. The situation could not possibly get worse but the earlier commuters remained visibly on edge.

This second train would arrive on time, so the last few standing passengers weren’t otherwise effected. They had lights and air conditioning. The commuters just outside the city had it made, they just didn’t know it. One woman, standing next to my seat, couldn’t understand the frenzy.

She remained positive, “The railroad does get us there.”

“Yes. This is still better than driving in traffic.” another Cambridge passenger agreed.

“Right? A few less seats does not make a difference.” declared the first.

A dangerous remark from someone that had just boarded in Belmont. I was already on the 2nd train, after the first arrived 20 minutes late, and was an hour behind schedule after offloading and reboarding with 300+ of my most intimate friends.

The morning commute included a bigger crowd, no privacy and I was late. Yes, I had avoided traffic and read a large part of my book. But no, I couldn’t fall asleep, even though it was so much like home. There had been a lot of excitement with the lights off.

Morning Moon

Groggily I woke and stumbled across the hall to the bathroom.

I pulled down my pants, looked out the window and got mooned.

I let out a sigh of both happiness and relief.

Downhill Camping

I’ve been friends with my high school bestie for over 30 years. She recently came into the area for a two-day Conference held OUTSIDE the city.  Melanie left Boston and met me at my parent’s house.

I gave her a short re-tour of the place where we had our original sleepovers. We talked around the table with my Mom and Dad and it was endearing to share new stories in their old house.  We saw my brother and sister on our way out which enhanced the spirit of our “good ole days”.

We left for some 1×1 girl talk and a male waiter. I wanted to show Melanie that the country also had some fine dining establishments where we could just relax and spoil ourselves a little bit. We had our fancy food and stripped-down conversation. We enjoyed a multitude of flavors and talked about everything under the sun. The creme brulee was the icing on our reunion custard.

That custard crystallized the fact that it was all downhill from there.

A Northern redneck in our high school town decided to change his radio station as he passed in front of the restaurant and almost ran us down.  Melanie left the fast-paced city to be nearly hit in our remote suburbia. We made  it to our cars parked almost 40 feet away and headed to my post-and-beam house in the woods.

Camping here we come.

We carried all her bags into a dark house and met a dog that needed to go back out.  I walked Mel to my daughter’s room and while I shut off the outside lights, she took off her make-up in the upstairs bathroom. As I rejoined her, I realized she would have also found a wall that needed painting near the toilet and an upturned piece of flooring that needed replacing near the bathtub.

Let’s just say our cabin needs some work.

We sat on the bed and started more girl talk as we grabbed our work bags for some quick updates before bed.  Otis was whining in the hallway so she insisted on giving him some more attention. I warned her if she was too nice he’d shed all over her.  She did not heed my warning and soon had a million fawn hair follicles all over her black yoga pants.

I found some medical tape in the first-aid kit and took care of her legs as best I could with what was available in our surroundings.

Melanie was her usual gracious self and just asked for a glass of water before bed.  I went downstairs with the dog, put him in his bed, shut off the lights and my tired self forgot Melanie’s water.

I’m not sure if she thought to drink from the sink spout like a garden hose?

We’d talked about our morning routines so I heard her get up  as I got out of the shower. I had left her towels and a toothbrush, I just hadn’t considered heat. I love the cool crispness of Spring in these woods. It wakes me up to take the dog out in the morning.

My city guest may not have had the same perspective when she came downstairs looking at my unlit wood stove.

She had showered and I was folding laundry in the bathroom. She might have wanted to see if I still used a washboard too?  She didn’t complain and only peeked her head in to request a hair dryer. She’d already scouted Trisha’s room and the upstairs linen closet. My heart sank as I realized Trisha probably had that electric device at campus.

I apologized and  could only suggest she just let her hair air dry?

My long straight hair is usually dry by the time I commute to the city. Her thick brown wavy locks were going to have to rough it.  I felt horrible and wanted to make it up to her.

That’s when I realized the Keurig was at my other daughter’s campus.

I took out my husband’s coffee press. The good news was he had left us some ground coffee, so we didn’t have to pound it out on some rocks.

I reached for the eggs knowing Mel would enjoy some scrambled eggs with her java. No toast for my gluten-free city girl. I added some sausage patties and yelled out into the oak tree beams that breakfast was ready.

Thank goodness for our black cast iron pans. They may have saved the camping trip.

Melanie came down with her own bags on her back and her still wet hair in a tight ponytail. My good-humored friend made her own coffee and sat down with one of her oldest girl pals and enjoyed (?) a nice breakfast before going back to the Conference and city life. I was thrilled with our remaining time together but relieved for her that my country hostess duties were almost over. She probably needed a break from me and my life at this point.  I grabbed one of the bags and walked her to our shaded driveway.

We got to her car only to find the drivers side mirror buried under the biggest bird poop I’d ever seen. It was like the crows in our yard had their own reunion too!

It might be another 30 years before she visits again but she won’t be able to erase the moments we shared.  We are now parents ourselves and have our own houses.

I’m sure Melanie’s just glad hers is in Boston.

I hear they have electricity there.