the heat is on

“Why’s it got to be so hot?”

She’s not wrong. Wired as I am there’s these first thoughts that I keep private that consider how at this time of year the Earth travels closer to the Sun so we feel warm because we’re closer to each other. That thought isn’t helpful so I keep it to myself. It is warm out. Instead, I look back at the cat, flaked out on the cool concrete floor near where I’m typing this and know that question isn’t just hers, not just mine, and there’s really no answer because what we need is not going to change to suit the fleeting nature of our comfort. Pity, I mean, just what’s the purpose of temperatures above twenty-five degrees Celsius anyway? What’s to be gained? Why even measure to that accuracy, especially when you factor in humidity and think to yourself that “Feels like thirty-five degrees” is about as useful as describing how you’re still drowning but are comparatively more wet.

We’re lucky and our apartment doesn’t really get that warm and luckier still because my car is the first one I’ve ever owned that has air conditioning. So, like the father in Jean Sheperd’s A Christmas Story, I proclaimed: “We are going out”. By the time we reached Truro our old friend “it feels like” was up to forty degrees but because we were in town around midday we realised the fortune of our timing meant we could finally try fresh donuts at Aroma Maya. So we did. You know, hot coffee was what I wanted and needed and while so was that Boston Cream that came with it, its chocolate frosting began to melt so fast it felt like we might have to quickly develop a new unit for the rate of plasticity. Back in the car, it knows the way to the trains. The Truro shunter (CN 515) must be out on the road somewhere and it looks like CBNS is already out of town. I’ve long wanted to spend some time walking around New Glasgow’s downtown so north we go. We land in Stellarton just as CBNS 306 was pulling in from its return from Truro and before it continues onward to Havre Boucher. We’re pulling up to the Stellarton yard office just as 3365 leading 3515 and 3364 are. Those SD40-2’s are just gorgeous. I could watch this all day long.

I don’t know enough about CBNS operations as I should or as I’d like to. The engines are rolling light up to the yard office so I assume that’s their day done. Caleb later helps me out and clarifies how it works: 305 runs from Stellarton down to Truro to interchange with CN then returns as 306; 306 stops in Stellarton to work the yard there and then continues onward to Havre Boucher where it connects with the CBNS Havre Boucher to Port Hawkesbury switcher; 306 becomes 305 and as 305 returns Havre Boucher to Stellarton and that’s a day. I love it. Thank you Caleb–I owe you!

CBNS have three SD40-2’s and numbered 3364, 3365, and 3366. Today’s consist has the newest member of the fleet, 3515, splicing that set. Check out its neat white roof! Hopefully that at least a little helps with the heat in a cab like that on a day like today.

We’d joke how in Halifax everything is closed on Mondays. New Glasgow feels about the same and it’s later in the day too so not as many places in New Glasgow downtown to visit and that’s okay. We do check out a fantastic antiques dealer and stop for a coffee at River Run Cafe. Despite a quiet day it’s nice to finally get out and walk around town. Last winter we’d looked at a house on the opposite side of the river so head toward George Street’s bridge to see that “might have been” address. CBNS runs through the narrowest of quarters, darting between New Glasgow’s dense downtown, part elevated above street level and part at grade. By George Street it crosses at level and as we turn onto George the crossing lights are flashing. I adore Caleb’s photos of CBNS, in general, and especially here in New Glasgow. With that memory in mind I dart not back from the crossing in a fumbling toward humility attempt to emulate someone whose work I adore but actually toward the crossing and did the above instead. I mean, really, what was I thinking? I am safely inside the crossing but the location is very tight and the photo I wanted to make was one of the train threading its way through town not a photobombing SD40-2…I’m sorry.

Summer at The Dock - New Glasgow, NS
Red Lights Aglow on George Street - New Glasgow, NS

Those above two photos are linked from Caleb’s Flickr album of CBNS photos. His work in this same location is magic. We talk a lot of inspiration and this is one of my references for what that word means.

The drive back features a soundtrack of Christmas music, thoughts like “I sure am glad A&W brought back the Whistle Dog”, and how it’s a pity New Glasgow isn’t a bit closer to Halifax but still how nice it was to finally get up there on a well-earned day trip where “screwing around” was the agenda and the round table was “glad we had this day together”.

It’s a good life. I’m glad I’m here. I’m extremely grateful we share in it together.

Categories: How I think

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4 replies

  1. Wonderful blog.
    I’m there with you in these words and photos… despite sitting with the dog, by a loch in Scotland!
    Is 3327 an ex CN SD40 I wonder? It sure is a pity TerraTransport sold off the Central Nova Scotia once traffic at Sydney dried up.

    • Scotland is not always so far away. In so many places in northern Nova Scotia and Cape Breton evidence of that is everywhere from place signs to like marks keeping one land connected to another.

      I’ll confess that while I always look forward to any chance to be in CBNS territory and adore the colour orange I’m not as a much a fan of the G&W paint scheme so find myself typically imagining alternatives. I really like the current engine collection on the CBNS, those ex-BN SD40-2’s, the remaining GP15’s, and that simply stunning GP9, and keep imagining them in alternative colours. I’m pretty sure that original CBNS gold lettered black would look wonderful on today’s power and while I’m busy exposing my imaginative wanderings I think about it all wearing TerraTransport’s green.

      And, dammit, I keep sketching out things in N because a line like CBNS would be a beautiful subject in this most familiar of scales.


  2. Caleb’s photo setups remind me of the work of Jim Boyd, always working in trains among the buildings. Don’t apologize for what you got when you got photo-bombed. It’s what you got and it sounds like a great day. Not just trains, but working real life in around the trains. ‘s what it’s it’s all about!

    Thanks for sharing your adventures,

    • Thank you! Typically there’s a feeling of needing to avoid those “roster shots” though I’ll take the photo that feels right that day and be grateful for what it represents. Your kind words remind me the value here isn’t just in the thing captured in the photo taken but in the memory bookmarked by that print.


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