University of Minnesota
minnesota writing project
center for writing

Minnesota Writing Project.Center for Writing's home page.

Candance Doerr

Candance Doerr reading

© 2007

waiting for trains (19 months)

The cicadas hiss as we sit in the sun, waiting for the trains to come. We've walked eight blocks to these tracks hoping that we might catch sight of just one train. I have no idea if we'll actually get to see anything, but I know they come by here. The churn of their wheels and the howl of their whistles echo throughout the neighborhood. In the meantime, Oliver explores the wooden planks and polished steel that make up the tracks

Oliver beside train track

"Oliver look! A train is coming!"
I pick him up and place him on my hip; We stand on the planks looking down the tracks to a light that flickers 600 yards ahead.

"Here it comes, a train, Do you see the light? It's a train!"
Oliver senses my excitement and follows my pointing finger to look at the light slowly approaching. I step down off the track mound to await its arrival. Soon we can hear the train approaching. The steel wheels roll over the tracks, a consistent cha chun ... cha chun ... cha chun. Just after the caboose passes, a whistle announces the arrival of another train coming in the opposite direction. Without words, we watch this second "choo choo" pass.

Today our trip is fruitful, We see two trains. I can't help but wonder who is more excited about the trains...Oliver, impressed by their massive size and screeching presence or me, surprised by the chance to see two?

april morning walks (16 months)

Oliver picking pineconeI watch you as you gather your gems. Your method is precise. Pushing the cart along the sidewalk you stop every few feet to inspect the offerings. Once you find a cone to your liking you stop, point, and pounce, a gleeful grunt to follow.

You delicately place each cone in the cart fearful that it may shatter. What is it that you see when you look at these seeds? Is it their feathered design that draws you near? Their different sizes yet similar shapes? Or is it the shear joy of exploring the outdoors, your fingers cold, and nose running?


Oliver looking upChubby fingers clinging the cart, we continue our walk down the sidewalk. I hear the airplane approaching overhead and know that in moments you will drop your cones to twist, point, and moan at the silver bird above. Although you have no words to say it, I know your excitement.

The plane passes out of sight and you resume your earthly hunt. With head hunched low, and too-big pants dragging, you push your treasure forward in search of the next pinecone.