3 – Walking the Line
We were taught in school that parallel lines never meet, except as an optical illusion when you are looking at a railway track: at this moment, magic takes over and the thin ribbons of steel recede into infinity and appear to merge.
As my dog Baby and I walked along the infrequently used tracks that run between No.4 Road and Shell Road, a meeting with an officer of the CN (Canadian National Railway) Police was the last thing on my mind. The single line track connects the warehouses of Crown Packaging at the southern end of Garden City Road to the freight terminal of the CN Railway past Highway 99, at Riverport.
I was lost in contemplation as the breeze stirred the tall grass on either side. I could hear the twitter and chirping of birds among the blackberry bushes, the occasional hum of a barge on the Fraser as it lumbered upstream, the cyclists on Dyke Road, and the distant purr of small aircraft as they headed towards the airport. Across the fields to the north the gentle outlines of Cypress Mountain was flanked on the right by the more impressive ramparts of Crown Mountain and the familiar silhouette of my favorite North Shore hill – Mount Seymour.
The unmistakable shape of a cop car hove into sight on the north side of No.4 Road and I quickly leashed Baby : she had been trotting happily, darting in and out of the bushes, investigating any smell that piqued her curiosity, happy as a lark.
The policeman was a big man with a dark skin and he hollered,”Excuse me sir, please get off the tracks. You are not allowed to walk there!” He was standing outside his vehicle and leaning on the bonnet.
As I walked onto the road, he said,”Can I see some ID please?”
While I fiddled in my wallet to extricate my driver’s license, a woman appeared from the other side and he turned his attention to her.
He then proceeded to reprimand us both, reminding us that what we were doing was dangerous and unacceptable.
“Do you know that at least 5 people are killed every year walking on railway tracks in Canada?” he informed us. I kept my mouth shut, even though I was dying to tell him that I had lived in Mumbai for 28 years where the death toll on the railway tracks in a single day would make him faint! See freepressjournal.in/…-track-record/897697
He issued me a ticket for violating the Railway Act, which I disputed later on the grounds that there were no signs indicating I was breaking the law – and my fine was considerably reduced! The woman turned out even smarter than me: she told the officer that she did not have a driving license, so he could mail her any notice of violation if he so desired…. I still wonder if he ever did that!
Many Richmond residents walk the line…. especially in the summer months, many with their dogs as well. Baby made friends with Banjo on the line, a large Malamute older than her. She would hurl herself at him repeatedly in an effort to induce him to play; most of the time he would ignore her, finally giving in just to get rid of her unwanted attention – it reminded me of some young women who stalk older men for their own motives! (Please don’t sue me for this remark!!)
Since I had discovered the delights of the line in 2008, it had yielded a fruitful harvest of bird watching and bird photography. Others thronged the line in the summer months with plastic buckets in which they collected their blackberry harvests, some youth sat on the tracks and drank beer at sunset, a couple would balance their way gingerly on the steel like tightrope walkers, a man rode his mountain bike between the lines over the sleepers, a man jogged with his dog running alongside.
Right or wrong, it seems that everyone has a ticket to ride!