The Old Rail Station

I stood on the old wooden planks, waiting for a train that would never arrive. The trains don’t come this way anymore. They haven’t come this way in decades.

But I continued to stand there, the river flowing behind me with a wind at my back.

Looking out toward the grass plot with its several sleeping trees and the parking lot beyond, I envisioned the past with the water tank still standing and the train tracks running the length of the river. The water tank (as well as the restroom next to the station) was removed in 1925. I thought about what this single-story rail station must’ve been like when it was all a hustle and bustle.

The small brick building with its twin chimneys continued to stand proudly. When it was The Old Rail Station IIfirst constructed in 1834, the builders used local bricks and lumber (which were made in Niskayuna). The green doors and rimed windows to match displayed chipping paint. There were also places around the windowsill where pieces of wood had splintered. Some might say it was in need of maintenance, but I say it has character. Nothing, no building or human, that had withstood time this long would come out the other side looking perfect. There would be some bumps and scratches, some pealing paint and splintering wood. If only the building could talk it could tell stories we can’t possibly imagine.

I walked across the planks, imagining all the footsteps that had fallen here long before mine. They belonged to people waiting for a train, to people waiting for family members or loved one. Their stories are etched into the grains of the wood with ever step.

Slowly, I made my way down the small paved path, as if preparing to board the train. (The railroad station was originally built by the Troy and Schenectady Railroad, but later became part of the New York State Central Railroad.) I look in both directions. One way went out to Buffalo, the other way led to Albany.

I turned right and began making my way along the path. There was no way I was going Old Train Path IIto walk its entire length, as it ran parallel to the river, and as far. That’s a long way. So, I walked a considerable distance, looking through the gaps in the trees to the river. A flock of ducks flew by and landed in the water. They swam around in a part near land that wasn’t frozen. The river seemed to be flowing in the opposite direction. With some close listening, I could hear it babbling. Through a clearing several more ducks, or geese, (they were too far away to tell) flew by, circled around and landed on the water. Across the river, further down, a large white bird took flight. It could’ve been a crane, but once again, it was too far away to tell.

When I walked as far as I thought I should, I turned and retraced my steps. I was curious what was on the other side of the station and wanted a chance to find out.
At this point tiny snowflakes began to fall from the sky. Temperatures had been steadily dropping all afternoon, but snow wasn’t in the forecast. It was a pleasant, beautiful, surprise.

Behind the Old Rail StationI passed the train station and continued in that direction, as the path went on for miles that way too. After a few steps, I turned and proceeded down a muddy road that led to the river. In the summer, this road, this sodden patch of land was probably a boat launch. The edge of the water lapped at the land. It was surrounded by cattails and from where I stood, I could see the back of the rail station. Its red brick walls appeared to almost blend into its surroundings as it overlooked the river.

After a moment, I climbed up the muddy road and made my way toward the station. I walked back up the small, paved path, as if stepping off a train that just pulled into the station. The wooden planks registered my footsteps as I walked to the back of the building to look out over the river. A wind blew. It was colder than it had been a few hours before. My cheeks and nose were beginning to feel the change in the air, but I wasn’t done. I went back to the front of the building and stood there, scanning the pavement that ran parallel to the river, the one I spent a couple hours walking. It was a path that had been built on the original railroad bed. That meant this was a route trains and so many others took on the way to their destinations.

The property is now owned by the town. This old rail station and old rail bed (now a biking/hiking trail) is part of the park. It might look different today, but that doesn’t change history. No matter how the landscape transforms, the history of its places and its people are never truly erased.

To see more photos please visit my website.

2019

“May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art – write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.” ~ Neil Gaiman

2019 is…all yours.

Happy New Year! I wish you all the best in 2019!

Prayers for Jerome

JeromeThis is Jerome. He’s one of the most talented, kind, happy-go-lucky, down-to-earth people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. Sure, he’s on the quiet side, but is always willing to talk, always wears a smile, and quick to give a hug. When it comes to his music, he’s the master of the keys and accordion solos.

I’ve listened to his music since I was thirteen. I’ve known him since I was about sixteen or seventeen. I remember having conversations with him before and/or after shows. My camera and I have also taken countless pictures at these shows since I was in high school.

Yesterday, I received the news that he has cancer.Switchfoot

And here’s the thing about cancer…it doesn’t care. Cancer doesn’t care who you are. It doesn’t care if you’re rich or poor. It doesn’t care about your age or gender. Cancer doesn’t care. If it wants you, it’ll attack you.

But I have faith he’ll pull through like a true warrior. He always struck me as a strong person. (Seriously, he’s got this!)

While I’m sending love and prayers to him and his family, I ask that you might join me in doing the same. Whether you know him or not…whether you listen to his music or not…I ask that you please send prayers, well wishes, good thoughts and positive vibes his way as he begins his battle with cancer.

Thank you.

The Christmas Spirit

Lately, I’ve been hearing a lot of people say how it doesn’t feel like Christmas. They talk about how they’ve lost the Christmas Spirit – the spark of magic that accompanies the season.

For a minute, I thought I was the only one.

I’ve always been the positive one, the happy one, the one who is in love with this time of year. People have told me that the magic dies with age, but I never (and still don’t) believe it.

The last two years have been especially difficult, as life has been turbulent. I think it’s harder to fall when you feel so full of life and can’t imagine being any happier than you are in that very moment. So, no, it’s not my age. It’s the fact that I suffered, what I felt was, at the time, a great loss.

There was a time when I had a special someone to spend the holidays. There was also a time when I had two of my best friends to spend the holidays. Now, I’ve lost each of them. (I’m not going to go into the details, but for those of you who know me well, you know of whom I speak because you watched these relationships slowly break down.)

Then, suddenly, it didn’t feel like Christmas anymore. The joy, laughter and magic of the season was gone and replaced by heartache, misery and a slew of questions.

The Christmas Spirit seemed to be gone for good. Or so I thought at the time.

This is the first year I’ve felt that spark of magic again, where I’ve marveled at the snow as it falls, where I’ve taken pleasure in the music and twinkly lights, where I’ve felt that joy. And I’ve worked hard to get it back. Anything worth having is worth fighting for…and I want the Christmas Spirit in my life.

If people chose not to be in your life, then, that’s their problem, not yours. It’s the people who stick with you through thick and thin, no matter what, who truly wish to be part of your life. It took me a little while to figure that out.

This year, I have my family. I have my friends. I have my friends who are like family. I have my dog (who is also my faithful writing/editing partner). This year, I have no heartache because I will find someone who truly loves me. This year, I have no misery because there’s nothing to be miserable about. This year, I have no questions because the answers no longer matter (and I’m not sure they ever did). This year, I’ve finally made my peace with it all because the past can be crippling if we let it. This year, I’m letting the magic and wonder of Christmas fill me.

Life happens. I’m pretty sure that’s why it’s called life. It’s not all good, but it’s not all bad either. At times the negative things and all the noise produced by the world can dampen our spirits. So, if you’re having trouble finding the Christmas Spirit, remember, it’s not lost forever. It’s in every twinkly light, each snowflake as it drifts from the sky, every laugh we share with our loved ones and all the magic of the season. It’s already inside you. You just have to let it shine.

I wish you all a safe, joyful and magical Christmas.

4th Anniversary

Dear Readers,

Today marks the 4th anniversary of this blog.

I can’t believe it’s been four years already. When I started this blog, I wanted to write. I wanted to set stories free into the world and, hopeful, even be a positive influence in it. At the time, I wasn’t sure how it was going to work out. It was a risk, but one worth taking.

I know I write similar posts each year, but I consider it a small thanks to you – my readers, followers and supporters.

With another year ahead, I’m excited for the posts that will end up on this blog and the stories that have yet to be told (stories that I’m not even aware of yet). I hope you all have another great year of blogging and I look forward to reading your posts too.

Thank you!

~ Nicole