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Call of the wild


I can see my breath in the crisp air, trying to blow smoke circles to no avail. With the collar of my winter coat folded up, protecting me from the wind that is blowing this morning, I’m marching in place to warm my toes. The morning sky is not yet visible as we wait for the 4:45 a.m. train here at the Port Jervis Station. The calendar says it’s spring, but the temperature is still in the 30s—the days may be warmer, but the mornings are still cold. I am prepared though, I decide, as I pull down on my cap with my gloved hand. Off to my right is the station’s warming shelter, although the heat hasn’t worked right for months. Huddled inside are what look to be 12 fellow commuters packed like sardines in a space made for eight at best. At least they are out of the elements on this chilly start to the day. The city, with its hustle and bustle, will be 10 degrees warmer once we get there. For now, my only heat is from the flickering station light above my head. The train is running late this morning.

In the distance above comes a faint sound, like strangely different car horn with a steady beat, followed by an echo of itself. Slowly, softly, as if pulling back a curtain of light, the flock is revealed.  They honk their way through a game of follow the leader. I watch as they pull up the morning shade of what looks to be a beautiful day. Blue skies have trails of white clouds, floating like veils in the quiet dawn. The flock is overhead now and as loud as can be, breaking the sound of the approaching train. Then they are off into the distance, still pulling up the shade to reveal the day.

The Canada geese are not the only signs of spring. A group of robins is tugging worms from the ground before they can hide back in their hole. The battle brings a smile to my rosy cheeks. Buds are beginning to form on the trees to the delight of the squirrels that have eaten their winter stash. The train’s headlights reflect off the dewy tips of grass that has begun to green. Gone is the snow that recently covered my lawn, and the dirty mounds created by the plows will be gone soon too. Spring flowers are beginning to poke their heads up from the soil; soon they will delight us with their vibrant colors.

The train is in the station now, conductors bound down the stairs greeting us warmly. The shivering passengers barely manage a grunt in response. The man just before me is in shorts. He is a postal worker, I know. Wearing gloves, a cap, a heavy coat and wool socks pulled up to his knees. Once on board, I remark that he may be rushing the season with the shorts. He responds that he has sexy legs, to which I smile and shake my head. As the train pulls out, I can see and hear the next flock of geese. I watch them as they fly off into the distance to rest on some field or lake here in the Upper Delaware Valley. Yes, the call of the wild is truly making the announcement that spring has come. Enjoy.


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