Saturday, 25 September 2010

Time and Motion

When I was a child, the sounds of night in our house were my Dad’s raucous snoring and the mournful howl of the freight trains, rolling along about a mile from our house. One noise comforted me, the other made me somehow sad, but both seemed to belong to our house like part of the furniture.   Over at Grandma and Grandpa’s, the busy main road should have kept me awake, but I heard a familiar rhythm that lulled me to sleep as the whooshes of passing cars gradually dropped off to the occasional lost wanderer. Why else would anyone be out after my bedtime?

Of course there were the airplanes that made scraping sounds and left white trails scratched through the blue sky and occasionally a sonic boom that was always cause to stop and thrill about this modern wonder, a gift like a falling star or a fabulous crack of thunder that shook the house.

These days there are different modes of travel around me.  I quite forget about the airplanes looping overhead on their return flight path to Newcastle ‘International’ Airport; they all seem to stick that ‘I’ word in their name these days, don’t they?  Bill still gets excited to see them, particularly when he’s itching to be on holiday.  Our street is a rat run used by scurrying commuters who routinely ignore the new speed limit.  With cars parked on both sides of the street, this is of course foolish.  Occasionally in the wee hours I hear a motorcycle whizzing past and consider whether traffic calming lumps in the road would or would not be a lesser evil.

The ferry to Amsterdam passes through the mouth of the Tyne, every day about 5pm, and blares its big horn as it leaves.  I hear it in living room or garden and appreciate being reminded I live near (above) the river. In the morning or evening silence, I can just hear the clatter of the Metro train beginning its circular loops, round city and coast, crossing and re-crossing the river. 

Lying abed in the weekend quiet, all this movement seems anchored for a moment when a church clock, somewhere south of the river, tolls the 6 bells announcing morning. It’s not a ring but a clang that sounds old, history drifting through the open window.  The church is stationery, but its bell sounds the movement of time.

1 comment:

JO said...

You must have felt right at home while RVing across the US. It seems like each RV park is located within a short distance of a railroad track and if the park is in a town, the train must sound its horn as it enters town and all the way through it. We just left a Grants, NM park, next to the railroad tracks and one engineer, going through town during the middle of the night gave short little toots of his horn all the way through town. That wasn't as disruptive - did I mention I don't sleep as well in the RV.