Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Magic, Trainsets, and Kentucky Fried Chicken | Red Rover Hanging Art Mobile by Mark Leary

Mobile: Red Rover, custom colors

On beginning
“But where am I supposed to start?” asked line.
“Your where,” replied circle, “is less important than your when.”

Thoughts while making
I fell asleep last night listening to the sound of trains along I84. Remembering the many places I’ve fallen asleep to the same; from Virginia to Arizona, Encinitas to Oakland. And that’s when I thought about “them.”

For most of the year, they lived alone in our attic. Itchy from insulation. Hot from the summer’s sun. We never heard them, and often even forgot they were there. But they were. Quiet and in the dark, they waited.

Around the holidays, we’d pull down those creaky attic stairs, hinges squealing loudly. Would they hear our little feet coming? Could they hear our excitement?

Moving one box. Then another. And another. Revealing a thousand miles spread out before us, nailed to a sheet of plywood. Hills becoming mountains, animals running wild, barns and houses and gas stations. And even a Kentucky Fried Chicken with its red and white striped roof.

Our family trainset was something to behold. HO (1/87 scale). A powerful black locomotive. Sleek and heavy. Coaches and caboose. Freight cars and tankers.

There were plastic trees and truss bridges and intersecting metal tracks. Street lights and wooden fences and tiny figures.

It was these – the tiny little people – that I wondered most about. That is, when I wasn’t trying to ram the engine through wooden block barricades set up by the enemy.

What were they thinking as the trains rolled on by, round and round in an endless oval? Were they happy? How did they spend their time when I wasn’t watching?

These thoughts made me smile this morning, with many of the colors in this mobile sparked by those childhood memories.

What’s one treasured item that came (or still comes) out to make magic in your holidays?

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