This is one of those things I love about Pocatello:
It was just after six this morning. It was still very dark out, without even a faint glow of light spilling over the mountains behind my mother's home. The low, wispy clouds from last night had drifted away and the sky had the kind of clarity and depth that buckle my knees every time I see it. Mom had turned the Christmas lights on and their warmth, gold and red on the blue of the snow, cast a welcome glow through the trees and the empty flower beds. There were two kinds of wind, the big one roaring through the narrow valley of the Portneuf Gap not far from here, and the wind churning its way down the mountain behind us. The house shielded us from its bite but not the soft whine of its voice as it rolled through the washes on either side of us. And then, from the city five miles north of us, came the low bass hum of a train whistle. The trains used to be one of my favorite things when I lived here. You can hear them from anywhere in town, the loud clang as the cars lock together, the grind of their wheels on the track, and that groan of the whistle. On the rare occasions I stayed overnight at a friend's house, I would close my eyes and listen for the trains and imagine I was hearing them from the comfort of my own bed.
This morning, standing with Duncan in the silence of the far south side of town, the faraway wind and the nearby wind, and then the whine of the train, joined to form a nearly perfect harmony, a simple, effortless chord that caused Duncan to pause on the step, cock his head and listen into the darkness. I stepped away from the light of the house and turned my face up into the abyss of space and listened with my ears and body, and smiled as the memories of living here and the comfort of coming home, rolled over me.
I do love being home at Christmastime.