Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Celebrating the Passing of Time on a Train

When I was an oncology fellow many years ago, two other residents/fellows and their significant others joined my wife Janet and me for a ride on an old, narrow-gauge steam train that chugs up and down the Rockies on the Colorado-New Mexico border between Antonito, CO and Chama, NM. Every year since then, we’ve marked the passages of our professional and personal lives, and prepared for the transition from fall to winter, by renting a parlor car and caboose to enjoy the fall colors and catching up with friends and families. Moving at the pace of the century-old steam engine that pulls the train, conversations are unhurried.

Over the years, the group grew to include several more docs and their families. Children were born between each annual train trip. As they grew, the kids always grabbed seats in the cupola (the small windowed projection above the caboose). That made it easy for their parents to have adult conversations without having to keep a constant eye on the kids. My secret for getting to ride for awhile in the cupola with the youngsters was agreeing to tell stories featuring the Lone Ranger, Tonto -- and ghosts. I learned that saving the scariest part of a ghost story for the moment the train entered a tunnel was a surefire way to be invited back up to the cupola by the kids, year after year!

Now those kids are college students, just out of grad school, or starting their careers. They’re bringing their significant others to meet families and friends. Young physicians and their children have again become part of the annual fall ritual in the Rockies. It’s hard to get a seat in the cupola again.

The aspens were spectacular this year. The chill of early October at 10,000 feet, along with the autumnal light in the high country and the aroma of coal smoke, are familiar and memorable experiences every year. The appreciation of long-time friends, making new friends, sharing the stories of our lives – that’s what makes the train ride so special.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please leave a comment!