On track

Anna wanted to come home for the long weekend, so she caught Amtrak’s Piedmont train in Greensboro and got off in Durham, where I was waiting. As we drove to Ninth Street, where I needed to pick up some feed and supplies for our backyard chickens, Anna asked me if I’d ever taken the train.

“Yes, when I was in college [at John Carroll University], I used to take Amtrak between Cleveland and Chicago,” I replied.

I didn’t have time to tell her about the night I got kicked out of the Cleveland station, where I was waiting for the 4 a.m. train. I also didn’t have time to reminisce about the family trip when I was a boy, the seven of us boarding the train in Winnemucca, Nevada, and marveling over the next days from the observation car as the train climbed through the snowy mountains then the arrival into the Bay Area. When we returned to Winnemucca in the middle of the night, we discovered the station wagon had had its gasoline tank siphoned dry, and I helped my dad push the car through the empty streets to a gas station.

Today, I parked the minivan on Ninth, and Anna and I walked across to the Regulator Bookshop, where I wanted to buy a copy of Save Me the Plums, the delightful memoir by Ruth Reichl. I had listened to the audio book a few weeks ago, and was mesmerized by Reichl reading her account of the years she was editor of Gourmet, that stellar but now-gone food magazine.

I never reached the professional heights that Reichl did, but her love of putting good writing and food and story into the pages of a magazine resonated with me, made me recall my time as a food editor for Northern Ohio Live and my own tussles with the publisher. (I wrote about my love of magazines here.)

Another book I read recently was The Library Book, by Susan Orlean. It, too, was wonderfully written. Libraries, like magazines, are all over my blog archives. I’ve written about libraries in Caldwell , Cleveland, and Copenhagen and in Frederiksted, Paama, and Chapel Hill. If you’ve ever been in a library—decades ago or last week—read Orlean’s book!

Next door to the Regulator is Hunky Dory, a record shop. We stopped in to take a look. I was hoping to find a used turntable so I could play the Bruce Springsteen records I have at home. I went the other night to see the film Blinded By the Light, about a boy in the U.K. who finds direction through the words and music of Springsteen. Such a good movie that I cried big tears, my face dripping. A few weeks ago, Anna and I had seen the film Yesterday, a fun take on the timeless music of the Beatles.

We still don’t have a way to play our records in the house, but I do have a new Yamaha guitar and the goal to learn to play this instrument, and I have inspiration from writers and singers and chefs and countless creative individuals who fill our libraries and cinemas and stomachs and souls.



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