Blow Your Whistle at my Mules

Maybe the mules and I have been alone too long. Maybe I’m childish. Who cares. Fist-pumping the Nebraska sky to get a coal train to blow its whistle at the mules and me amuses the hell out of me.

That ol’ train whistle sure makes me smile. I hope it does you, too.

Whistle Post Script

The whistle blowing caper happened in the Sand Hills of Nebraska. The mules and I have since traveled to eastern Wyoming.

9 Responses to Blow Your Whistle at my Mules

  • “Long train, little lonely man, couple of mules”…It’s the name of a new country song from the Sandhills of Nebraska. I’d listen to that song over and over again reassured by the fact that a person can still find joy in the simple things…like connecting with the lonely man driving the long train through empty country. He sees his fellow lone traveler, the arm pump asking for acknowledgement and a salutation and blasts his big ole horn in response. One man to cheer and only the cattle to unsettle by doing so. So he does and the man grins and he laughs and it becomes the best part of his day and his week and his feeling towards others. I love it. Now I am going to watch it again.

  • I grew up not far from the railroad tracks, not close enough to feel the vibrations, but close enough to hear the whistle. I’ve always loved trains, not the romantic steam blowing and fire belching ones of old, but the work trains, heavy freight trains pulled sometimes by 2,3 or four engines.
    To hear a whistle now takes me back to lying in bed at night as a kid and knowing when the whistle came that it was the 11:00 freight crossing through Beard headed to Fayetteville and parts south to where I would never know. The whistle came 3 more times before fading from ear and I knew each crossing where it passed and which neighbors and friends were listening just as I did. Thinking about people miles apart hearing and maybe feeling the same emotions at the same time seemed surreal at the time.
    My favorite time was winter, bare trees casting skeletal shadows, a scattering of clouds crossing a cold full moon and then the whistle. The sound seemed just outside the window, it gave me chills then and the thought gives me chills now.
    Thanks for the trip B.

    • Dear P. Are you looking for a freelance writer’s gig? If so, you’re hired.
      Wow, what a beautiful piece of writing. Two things I love about it.
      -being just out of vibration reach of that train whistle’s blow. Sleeping on the ground next to the train tracks as I do on this trip, you learn the low vibrations jiggling in to your back bones up through your ribs and out your sternum (I’m a back sleeper) isn’t an earthquake. It’s the BNSF (Burlington Northern Sante Fe) coal train hauling coal from Gillette. The horn has a piercing quality, a slim needle through the ear drum. The quaking only extends a few hundred yards from the tracks. 1/4 mile away, the whistle has lost its knife-like punch. It’s more melancholoy. 5 miles away, it sounds good on a lonely country and western track.
      -shared experience: I love the notion of the train whistle being a frame of reference for all that hear it. At that precise time. In that precise place. On a micro scale, it’s like everyone knowing where they were when Kennedy was assassinated. Or the Twin Towers came down. For that brief moment, when the whistle blows in Hyannis or Beard, everyone’s collective attention is on that event. That’s rare these days.
      These days the mules and I are farther and farther from the train tracks. We hear it way off in the distance. What starts off as a blast thundering through the buttes washes through the desert like a broken wave before fading off in to the horizon. Some hear it. Some don’t.
      Thanks for the lovely thought.
      Let me know when you need a break from “making kindling” to start that writing gig.
      Bernie

      • Now that’s writing!!
        Thanks for the career adjustment. After reading your reply I’m confident I should stay in the kindling business.
        Beautiful piece my friend.

      • No no, mine wasn’t meant as a creative writing piece, it was an exercise to draw you out into writing more visceral descriptions!!!
        Yeah yeah, that’s it!
        See how easy that was, bet you never knew what hit ya, didge ya!!

  • Man that Pete guy writes well!

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