Friday, December 23, 2022

Merry Christmas: Here's wishing you peace, love and trains

Yesterday morning (Dec. 22), I spent a few hours trackside in Bedell, near Kemptville, as my wife was undergoing minor surgery at the area hospital (she's fine!). The quiet hours spent in the chilly December air had me feeling philosophical. The conclusion I came to is, I am a lucky man. I have a wonderful wife and two awesome daughters. I live in a safe, beautiful city. I do not fear for my life at the hands of an aggressive tyrannical regime. I live a comfortable life with a safe, secure job. I am free to express my opinions, live my beliefs, and pursue my passions. 

I have not always thought this way. In fact, I laugh at my younger self, who was often far too absorbed with all the challenges in my life. Too much time spent focusing on what was missing rather than being thankful for the abundance that was all around.

This photo is a great example of what I was pondering. Yes, there were no trains that went by in my hours trackside. Yes, for a train-starved Ottawa railfan, that is a major disappointment. But then, as I watched the sun slowly climb through the thicket of brush across the tracks, it began to illuminate this old telegraph pole, which still stands trackside, albeit in the scrub. The lighting and the position of the sun hit just perfectly and I grabbed a shot of the scene, not wanting to miss this cool sight.

This is all I got from a morning spent trackside. There was no parked rolling stock, no ties and little else to photograph. But this one shot made me smile. Again, it's an example of being grateful. I was given one brief moment of sun that illuminated a piece of railway history before my eyes. A little bit of magic.

This year has been a pretty good year for me. My family has maintained its health and we were able to do a lot more than we have done in the previous two years. I was able to indulge my railway hobby a fair bit. The end results were not what I expected. Instead of a bunch of photos of mainline freights and other things on my railway wish list, I manged to get a lot of unorthodox shots or quirky stuff this year. In years past, I would have thought of that as a failure. This year, I take it as an unexpected gift.

My point is, I am lucky, no matter what life throws at me. Gratitude has made railfanning much more fun. That, in turn, has made this blog much more diverse in its content and commentary.

So this Christmas, I simply want to thank everyone who has been a rail friend to me this year and in years past. The internet can often be a place of ugliness and bile. That was one of my fears when I began blogging. I will never claim to be the most knowledgeable railfan out there and I leave myself open to being corrected as much as I can. 

But everyone I have come across on this blog has been unceasingly decent to me. For that, I thank you.

So I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. I will be spending it with my family, going to church, reading a railway book (I've asked for one) and likely playing with whatever I bought my girls for gifts (I forget! old age!). Possibly, there will be an attempt at winter railfanning.

Here's wishing you peace in a sometimes troubled world, the love of everyone around you, and happy times spent indulging your fascination with trains.

I'll see you in 2023.

Michael Hammond

hammond.michael77 AT gmail dot com


Steve Boyko said...

Hello Michael, I hope you had a great Christmas and I wish you and yours a happy new year. Thanks for sharing your experiences here.

AJ said...

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you Michael!
Thanks for sharing your perspective. These are the sort of moments that are needed more and more these days as I feel like with how fast paced our lives are we often don't take or don't get the time to reflect like that.

Michael said...

Thanks for the comments, gentlemen. I guess I'm going soft in my old age. I'd like to think it's more of a shift toward wisdom, but my wife might dispute that assertion! However, I think that the point is, as railfans, being thankful for what you get makes for a better time railfanning. It's an important perspective for those of us in Ottawa!