As told by Maureen
Tyler Eugene loves trains. He loves the way the wheels going round on the tracks make the earth rumble. He loves the piercing sound of the whistle as it blows at road crossings. And he loves the way all of the cars hook together, dependent on the one little engine to make them stop - or go. He even likes the smell of the fuel as it trails out in the smoke and follows after thetrain down the track.
When I first met the Pippsywoggin, Tyler Eugene, with his collection of model engines and box cars and cabooses and tracks, it seemed strange to me that he loved trains so much. Why would a tiny being, not much bigger than a mouse, like this big, noisy human invention?
But then Tyler explained to me that Pips have been riding trains ever since they were invented. For here, at last, was a chance to travel and see vast stretches of the country without being dependent on an animal or bird for transportation. Pips were small enough that they were able to hitch rides, unseen. Food and bedding was never a problem as long as care was taken to choose trains that carried people as well as freight. Stories were even told of some independent Pips who had lived out their whole lives on trains, stopping from time to time in Pip settlements to share tales of the road in exchange for a few days of companionship.
I was out in the yard one day disgustedly stamping on mole tunnels that had appeared, seemingly overnight, when I saw Tyler Eugene rushing across the yard waving his arms. As soon as he caught his breath, he explained to me that the mole family had excavated some tunnels for him in which to lay tracks for his miniature railroad. I had almost destroyed it. Couldn't I just let this one tunnel be?
I could, and I did. My reward is that from time to time when I walk across the yard I hear the faint, nostalgic sound of a train whistle, and, for a few minutes, I, too, can imagine that I'm a carefree, adventurous soul, traveling the rails in search of an adventure.
1995, 2006 by Maureen Carlson