Rutland, VT

The air suffocates my face as mucous dribbles down my nose and onto my lips. I lay there on layers of moist cardboard, wrapped in a cocoon of nylon, listening to raindrops plunge into mounds of fresh snowfall under the whistling of night. I can barely feel my toes again. Their wiggling existence is numb like the brisk breath of winter. I’m comfortably cold, and as I look up at the silhouette of naked limbs dancing above me, the dark clouds roll in, and I droop my eyes. Stiff chills jolt my neck as I adjust my head upon my pack.

A stampede of thought infects my mind like a clenched fist pounding my brain. With each cold hour and howling stammer I slowly fade away in exhaustion. The illusion of a hand brushes my face, startling me, and I flutter awake to frozen pellets melting down my cheeks. I snap out of my drunken-like stupor, deprived of much sleep, and rummage through my scattered belongings. I hustle. I jam each foot into a boot and yank the laces into a double knot. I grab my cardboard. I chuck my sleeping gear over a shoulder, bolting through the trackside slop of leaves and slush, as the rain pummels me to the bone.

The ivory blanket slowly evaporates before my eyes as I dart up a slippery embankment for a few inches of freedom beneath the overhang of a metal roof. A misty haze dampens my jacket and dejavu strikes me as I stand there waiting for the storm to pass. I throw my pack over my shoulder and wander down the dark corridors behind the warehouse to a slippery alley. My feet scramble between loose gutters left astray near propane canisters and I follow the light to the front entrance of a store. A half dome greenhouse with empty wooden shelves sits by the roadway and I wander in, spreading my gear out and resting my head. As I nod in and out, I vaguely watch the parking lot fill with a thick luminous canvas. Snowflakes pile up on the ground.

Hours pass and I mosey back by the embankment, curling up behind the warehouse, as I wait for my train to build. The loud humming of snow blowers pierce the air, waking me to a frosty paradise, as the morning crew starts working on the railroad. Fluffy pillows speckle the landscape endlessly as my eyes adjust to the vibrant whites and then BOOM! Freight cars clank together by the brunt force of a front engine building my train to Bennington. I sit their anxiously awaiting my departure wondering how my patience has sustained three full days of winter camping in the woods of Rutland, VT?

My mind ponders regret as I wish I rode suicide on the only grainer to Bellows Falls the day prior, but many sleepless, bone-chilling nights, made me succumb to delirium. So I hopped off just two miles out of the yard and hoofed it to the southern throat.

Days go by and here I am now, licking snowflakes off my lips, bundled in all of my clothes, just waiting for the blinking red of FRED to send me my heartwarming departure.

10 AM..noon…3 PM…the hours melt away with the daylight and still she did not roar from the yard with screeching wheels and a bellowing horn. Still I sit there ripping open my last “hand warmers” packet jamming each warmer beneath my second layer of socks, waiting on my train, the train that never came.

I knew in that moment it was time to hit the road again. This short trip left me anxious with an itch to ride free, ride far and run wild. I did not get to ride AT ALL on those four cold days between work. Instead, I left Rutland that evening for Dorset with only more wanderlust and nothing to quench my gypsy blood, but three consecutive workshifts. So that night I quit…leaving the end of January through open doors.

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