053105sunrise.jpgThe morning sun burns off fog from Little River in Floyd County. Morning mist and fog are normal along the river this time of year but the haze quickly burns away under the sun of an approaching summer.

I follow the river on many of my morning walks. It meanders through the valleys of the county like a watery train — past farms, homes, businesses. Under roads, intersecting with creeks that feed it until it heads, like all creeks and rivers do, out of the county. Since no train tracks exist anywhere in the county, the river will have to do for someone whose fascination with trains goes back to a childhood when I put pennies on the tracks in Farmville, VA, so the 4:15 p.m. Norfolk & Western passenger train could flatten them on its way to points unknown.

Maybe that’s why Steve Goodman’s City of New Orleans train song came to mind on my latest trek by the river.

Rolls along past houses, farms and fields.
Passin’ trains that have no names,
Freight yards full of old black men
And the graveyards of the rusted automobiles.

Maybe it’s just a writer’s endless search for the perfect metaphor. Maybe it’s a tune that just popped into my head on a beautiful spring morning.

Or maybe it’s more.

Good morning America how are you?
Don’t you know me I’m your native son,
I’m the train they call The City of New Orleans,
I’ll be gone five hundred miles when the day is done.