By Siegfried Sassoon
Along the wind-swept platform, pinched and white,
The travellers stand in pools of wintry light,
Offering themselves to morn’s long, slanting arrows.
The train’s due; porters trundle laden barrows.
The train steams in, volleying resplendent clouds
Of sun-blown vapour. Hither and about,
Scared people hurry, storming the doors in crowds.
The officials seem to waken with a shout,
Resolved to hoist and plunder; some to the vans
Leap; others rumble the milk in gleaming cans.
Boys, indolent-eyed, from baskets leaning back,
Question each face; a man with a hammer steals
Stooping from coach to coach; with clang and clack
Touches and tests, and listens to the wheels.
Guard sounds a warning whistle, points to the clock
With brandished flag, and on his folded flock
Claps the last door: the monster grunts: ‘Enough!’
Tightening his load of links with pant and puff.
Under the arch, then forth into blue day,
Glide the processional windows on their way,
And glimpse the stately folk who sit at ease
To view the world like kings taking the seas
in prosperous weather: drifting banners tell
Their progress to the counties; with them goes
The clamour of their journeying; while those
Who sped them stand to wave a last farewell.
Daniel went off to robotics, and the rest of us went to meet Paul's parents in Ellicott City, where the branch of the B&O Railroad Museum -- housed in the oldest surviving railroad station in the country, though it's no longer in use for the trains -- still has its holiday model train displays up. I am sure I have mentioned that my father-in-law has been working for years on a model train display that takes up half his garage, so we can always invite them to do train stuff (given the number of train displays he has taken us to this year alone, I am starting to wonder whether model trains in the basement are in my husband's future and therefore my future too, heh). There's always a large model display of the regional railroad housed inside one of the buildings, but for Christmas there are also several model train displays inside the main part of the museum, in the old ticket office.
It was quite cold, but not too cold to walk to the two best stores in Ellicott City --the Forget-Me-Not Factory (which has an amazing collection of fairies, pirates, holiday houses -- Halloween as well as Christmas -- costumes, Renfaire stuff, and Wizard of Oz stuff) and Sweet Cascades (which is a chocolate shop). Then we drove back to pick up older son and came home for dinner. The kids both had things to do in the evening and Maryland had already beaten Clemson, meaning I had control of the TV, so I watched Nine -- which I really don't love in terms of the story, I like Fellini's movies but not his ego or attitudes towards women, but I have loved the music since I first heard the Raul Julia recording a million years ago. Not even Nicole Kidman can ruin "Unusual Way" for me, and the rest of the women are pretty awesome.