Sunday sounds

Sirens in the distance: I picture big red trucks racing somewhere. We hear them far less often now that we aren't living on the university campus, where they seemed to respond to several proto-emergencies a day in our neighbourhood of fraternity houses and eco-Franco-Italian-mitteleuropa residences. Figures, I guess. All those high-risk 20-year-olds.

Birds. Caltrain, whistling its way from San Francisco to San Jose, probably pretty empty on weekends, but full of commuters other days. It whooshes by two blocks west of us and there are level crossings everywhere with barriers that clang up and down. Every now and then a car gets stuck on the tracks in rush hour and, sadly, more often, someone jumps in front of the train, so the drivers are understandingly anxious. But at other times, the whistle sounds like an old time train whistle crossing the Canadian Prairies, then the Rocky Mountains and pulling into the old station in downtown Vancouver. When I was a student I used to work summers at a lodge in the Rockies and when we were off work we'd go into town and eat soft ice cream and watch the train go through. Steam. With porters.

Reading Le Monde this morning, I see that Saint ExupĂ©ry is the favourite author of French high school students, which reminds me of how much I loved his books when I was twenty and makes me wonder what it was about them. Wind, Sand and Stars (Terre des hommes): the lyrical Sahara desert landscape, I think. Maybe the affinity with night skies and the flat prairie wheat fields of Alberta and Saskatchewan.