August 5, 2003 - Tuesday
The railroad tracks that pass close to our vacation cottage carry both passenger trains and freight trains and I've thought since last summer that, with a major city just a few miles away, there had to be a freight yard somewhere close by. So, this morning we went in search of a freight yard, not at all knowing what we might find or be able to see. It was easily visible, just as I had been told locally, right off the main road going north and we really couldn't have asked for a better show. When we got there a shunter engine (Harry'd been saying this spring that he wanted to see a shunter, although I don't know if he remembered that or retained that desire) was in the process of moving freight cars from a long train onto different tracks and, presumably, into position for the next leg of their respective journeys. There was also a shed and roadhouse, very similar in shape to Harry's Thomas the Tank Engine shed, as well as a snowplow train on a siding and other random railroad oddities.
The fascinating part about this - aside, of course, from seeing Harry, Jeremy, and their cousin Ben so excited about the trains - is that I understood what was going on with the shunting from reading a children's book we borrowed from the library for Harry about how trains bring supplies to a chocolate factory. Had it not been for that 20-page kids book, I might have wondered what, in fact, this engine was doing, oddly moving back and forth and back and forth with this long train of freight cars. Perhaps I might have even wondered what was going on when I noticed the last few cars of the train being released, or uncoupled, and rolling away. But, with the background of Harry's primer, I knew just what to expect. Even better, Harry probably knew what was going on as well as I did.