January 22, 2014 —
Winter snow storms, like the one right after this past New Year, can turn the train ride into a snow globe. They were still cleaning the station platform when I pulled up for a late “snow day” train. Rather than take the day off, I wait for the plows to do my road and go in late. We prepare to leave the station when Conductor Eddy yells out his signature, “All aboard!” I get goosebumps of excitement as the doors close and we take off. The 6:55 is perfect on days like this and mainly for the ride alone; the sun won’t come up until around 7:30, so it’s still dawn’s early light.
As you travel the rails from Port Jervis, it’s hard not to let the kid in you press your nose against the pane of the window to get a good look. Holiday lights on the houses in the blurry distance can look like the northern lights, if you use your imagination and squint your eyes. The tracks between Port and Otisville are lined on both sides with pine trees that are heavy with the new-fallen snow. Thomas Kinkade could only imagine a ride like today. The snow is the soft and fluffy kind, hard to make snowmen, but excellent for this trip. The train accentuates the sense of being in a snow globe. It whips up flakes from the rails, as we watch comfortable inside looking out. The snow is creating a long veil of a tail that follows the train, dancing along on its way as we travel on this magic carpet ride of winter white.
As we pull into Middletown a few minutes late, the people on the platform all have taken a few steps back as this snowball of a train comes barreling into the station. The long tail of snow continues to follow the train’s forward movement, and within seconds the station is in white-out conditions. The wide-eyed passengers look at the snow-covered train as Eddie bounds off and hollers, “Watch your step folks; the steps are slippery.” You can hear the sound of shoes pounding the floor as each person steps into the car and shakes off the snow from their coats and boots (good day not to sit by the door). With a command of “all aboard,” we are off again to the next stop and those that follow. The scenery of the Orange County countryside would give the mountains of Aspen a run for their money on a day like today. It’s spectacular.
As we pull into Tuxedo along the Ramapo River, two Canada geese float by. They are oblivious to the fact that they should have flown south for the winter, but then again maybe this is their idea of south. The river rocks are snow-covered and the sun is just peeking over the hills. The geese are staring at their reflection in the swirling river, enjoying their own company, I think. Speaking for myself, the seasonal changes are one of the many reasons I live in the Upper Delaware River Valley. Days like this only confirm my decision. The “snow birds” of our valley will miss days like today, but maybe they are reading this in their sandals by the pool, with warm memories revived by the shake of a snow globe.