Wednesday, August 13, 2008


“I don’t want to read what you wrote,” said Larissa. “I know exactly what I’m going to write about. Alexandra, don’t steal my idea!”

“Then don’t tell me what it is. I know what I’m going to write about, too,” said Alexandra.

“You can both write about the same sound,” I assured them. “What sound are you going to write about?” I asked Larissa.

“A train whistle.”

“That’s what I was going to write about!” Alexandra cried.

“Did you guys read my essay?” I asked in amazement. How could all three of us immediate think of a train whistle?

“No,” answered both girls.

I had considered writing about the songs of crickets or the summertime buzzing of cicadas or even the choruses of spring peepers who greet spring. But I’d settled on that haunting train whistle

12-year-old Larissa’s essay:

As I lay in bed drifting off to sleep, I hear the sad, echoing whistle of a train. The sound is like a trigger, making me think of camp. I think of lying in my bunk there, staring at the ceiling and suddenly the whistle from the edge of camp, loud and echoing. And the clack, clack, clack, of the train running over the rails. Several times it whistles as it chugs around the camp. Then slowly the clack, clacking fades away…

So every time I hear a train whistle, I think of days at camp, the fun games, swimming, riding horses, singing songs, roasting marshmallows for s’mores and everything else that we do. To me, the train whistle is almost like someone calling me to come to camp.

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What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.”
— Albert Pike, Scottish Rite Freemason (1809-1891)