Summer Evening and the ML401

Summer Evening and the ML401
Conrail ML401 rolls west through Central New York farm country in Onondaga County, September 1994.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Thoughts on a New Decade

Welcome to a new decade - 2020 offers hope and a promise of tomorrow, as all new years do.  I am optimistic for this year and decade to come!  Still, though, sometimes a date alone is worth taking time to reflect.

I'll include few images of the recent operating session which upon processing and viewing have helped me think and ponder over the 'here &  now.'  


2019 was a year with new highs, balanced with several difficult lows.  I am realizing as time passes that some times of each year tend to be more prone to major shifts in energy, both on the layout but also in the larger context of life.  January has become such a time.  Early in life I'd be excited for snowstorms, for a cozy house on winter nights, for the chance at time off school, time trackside or working on models, and in later years time home from college.  Those memories are poignant and true, and remain where I somehow expect to be in January, even while life is so different from those days, all more than 25 years ago now.  


Today, firmly rooted in adult life, January carries more weight as well as expectation.  January now carries more awareness of darkness, and memory of things beyond my imagination 25 years ago.  My current sense remembers my father's death 4 years ago this month.  I'm more reminded of that this year than I expected.  These days in NJ there is less snow to be excited about, thought my excitement for a good storm remains.  I am aware of the weight of winter finances, family responsibility while recovering from holiday spending, making acute other financial considerations and that subsequent responsibility.  Work dominates the days and weeks before trailing off most nights and weekends, but to a higher degree than I'd hoped it still requires energy and interactions after hours.  Official volunteer activity similarly adds a layer of stress.  And it is my house that we work so hard to keep cozy, creating memories for my kids and my wife and I alike.  


Mixed in with all that is this wonderful hobby which is truly in a golden age.  My family is healthy, which makes all other issues pale in comparison.  I have my health, a true blessing in a world of uncertainty.  And so I offer this as food for thought:  it is the Great Balance that is so perplexing.  I think there is a lot to be said for 'sitting' with the energy of our times, of the seasons and weeks and days, and reflecting on our being present with that energy, whatever it is.

Worth noting is that our first ever operating session on the Onondaga Cutoff was in October 2011, and it is hard to believe that makes 2020 the TENTH year of operations on the layout.  More to come on this as we approach this important milestone!

For me, and for many of us that model, I feel the hobby has a role in keeping us centered.  Ours is a real, tangible hobby, and one you can't really fake.  Either you create models or you don't.  You either read a few books or references or you didn't.  You attended operating sessions, or you didn't.  You have to have jumped in somehow to be part of the hobby.  That clarity of purpose is important for people and it's something I am thankful for.  The Onondaga Cutoff was built with the hope of satisfying operations, and keeping alive memories from a younger, more innocent life that I had when I was 10, 12, 16 years old, even 20 and 24 years old.  It has exceeded expectations on both.  

I feel a great deal of gratitude this January.  Even though fighting a nasty cold and dealing with all there is to deal with, I am just so thankful for those that I join and that join me on this journey.  The amazing people in my world make this hobby and its operating sessions so worthwhile, and add to life in many ways beyond the hobby.  It is literally a hobby - and a life - of 'better together' and that is how I want to embrace it.  

Here's to the new year, and decade!

~RGDave

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