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The Best Night of My Life

Saturday, November 18, 2006

We spent all day Wednesday in the company of Mr. Bouton, also known as Boo-tawn, PrettyBoy, and all around great guy. We birded Bosque, drifting from one neat wildlife encounter to the next. The kids were mostly content, having Bill set up the scope to show them breathtaking views of cranes, waterfowl, hawks, flickers, a preening adult bald eagle (gasp!) and a young bald eagle devouring a coot. We were just able to identify the prey by its foot before the foot fell off. Science Chimp was fulfilled.
At the end of the day, we found this line of photographers, led by our old pal Artie Morris. Naturally, they had an incredibly choice setup of pastel sunset with sandhill cranes and snow geese dropping artistically against the painted backdrop. We joined them and bogarted the scene with our somewhat less impressive camera gear. Nevertheless, the images that came from that evening are among my favorites yet (thank you again, Shila, for loan of this great camera!) And no thank you, Blogger, for inexplicably refusing to upload any of my bird images except this one. What is it? What am I doing wrong? Dying to show you these things...
We were in a state of rapture that peaked while there was still light enough to capture sharp images, and gradually fell off into afterglow.
For their part, Phoebe and Liam amused themselves gathering railroad spikes in the gloaming, always watching and listening down the track for an approaching locomotive. This image blows my mind, the track a shining line, little more. And approach it did—an enormous, several hundred-car freight, pulled by no less than four genuine Santa Fe engines.
I think I love trains almost as much as Liam does. It’s a visceral thing—the sheer power of them, the rumble, the earth-shaking majesty, the knowledge that they could turn me into a spot of grease on the steel. Liam was alternately laughing and crying, running like a crazed terrier up and down the trackside as the great freight roared by.
And then, it began to slow, and stopped---right there where he could admire it up close. Liam, Phoebe, Bill, and I were the only people in that assembled throng who thought that was terrific. Of course, the mile-long train totally blocked our access to our cars across the road, just as we were hoping to cross. Everyone else was tired, cold, and hungry, thinking of hot hotel showers and warm food. Several people, unbelievably, threaded their cameras and tripods through the cars and climbed to freedom. We stood and gaped at their temerity, commenting on the possibility of a sudden lurch by the train. And sure enough, from way up the track, the engine gave two quick toots, and began to roll. The suddenness with which it picked up speed was frightening. It was going faster than a person could run within seconds. We stood, rooted, watching it pick up to 80, maybe 90 mph in a matter of minutes. Liam began to cry; it was all too much, and he was afraid it might derail. He soon recovered, turned to me with a tear-streaked face, and said, “This was the BEST NIGHT OF MY LIFE.”
Yes, he’s missing more than a week of school. We don’t feel bad about that at all.
Posting once again from The Place in Socorro--Socorro Springs Brewing Company. Fabulous food, breakfast, lunch and dinner, and homebrewed beer. Yes. It's all I can do this morning to keep BOTB from ordering ale with his eggs Benadryl.
Posting, uncharacteristically, on a Saturday, because we're headed north to Santa Fe, Sandia Peak for rosy finches!! and then Taos for cultural koolness. I've no clue when I'll have a connection again, and as it is Blogger is blocking our every attempt to show you New Mexico, so it may be adieu for awhile. The festival presentations went swimmingly, they seem to like us down here. Now we're off the clock and ramblin' again. Later!


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