Chelsea Green Publishing

Chelsea Green Blog

Janisse Ray: Track Back – A Love Letter to Riding the Rails

The following article written by Janisse Ray, whose book is Pinhook: Finding Wholeness in a Fragmented Land, appeared in the January/February issue of Orion Magazine.

I set my bags down and look south, beyond the main crossing of Jesup, Georgia. The tracks are empty, weeds growing up all around them.

Dusk has fallen, and in the golden remains of day the dilapidated station looks almost beautiful. It suffered a fire and now rots grudgingly away, boulder-sized holes in its roof, circled by orange police tape. Beyond it, the parking lot is rough, unpaved, without marked spaces, and no one will appear to say, “Not here,” or to charge. Across the street, a tattoo artist works late.

I think back to the first time I caught the train, some three years ago. My folks had driven me to this rail station, which, let’s face it, is not a station.

“Stand out here by the track,” my dad had said. “Wave hard. They have to see you or they’ll roll on.” Forty years had passed since he’d been on a train. “And get ready. The train won’t actually stop. You have to jump.” “The computer knows I’m waiting,” I said. But I was out by the track anyway in the early evening light, pinks and oranges gilding the sky, the smell of a pulp mill in the air. Obscured by a curve at the southern edge of town, the train enters Jesup unexpectedly. First came a loud and long whistle, and then, right on time, the train reared into view. Crossing bars came down and a bell began to jang. The train swept up with a terrific racket, clicking and clacking, rails creaking, brakes screeching. For a minute I thought, My dad is right, it isn’t going to stop, but it drew up short. A conductor let down a staircase between two cars. He wasn’t hurrying. I struggled aboard with my big bag. Inside, the car was bright, clean, and spacious, a carpeted aisle dividing pairs of commodious blue seats. I lifted my luggage to an overhead rack, sat down next to a large window, and waved goodbye to my parents standing lonesome by the track. The Silver Meteor was pulling out, heading toward New York City, where I would be by eleven the following morning. Continue reading this article at Orion. Janisse Ray’s book, Pinhook, is available now. She is also at work on another book for Chelsea Green, to be published in 2012.

Bullshit. *Charisma, Icon, Intelligence, Empty Sandwich

How does the word “bullshit” connect to Charisma, Intelligence and the notion of The Empty Sandwich?To find out the answer to this question we meandered through David Fleming’s Lean Logic. A dictionary unlike any other, Lean Logic encourages readers to actively and intellectually engage with its entries. These entries are often cross-referenced so that you […] Read More

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Three Principles to Survive the Future

What guiding principles will you need to not just survive the future, but imagine a better one? Surviving the Future is a story drawn from the fertile ground of the late David Fleming’s extraordinary Lean Logic: A Dictionary for the Future and How to Survive It. That hardback consists of four hundred and four interlinked dictionary entries, […] Read More

Sow Seeds: Stop Walking Around Doing Nothing

“In the last one hundred years, 94 percent of seed varieties available at the turn of the century in America and considered a part of the human commons have been lost.”That’s one of the key takeaways in award-winning author and activist Janisse Ray’s book, The Seed Underground: A Growing Revolution to Save Food. In her book, Ray […] Read More

True or false? Figs contain dead wasps

They are trees of life and trees of knowledge. They are wish-fulfillers … rainforest royalty … more precious than gold. They are the fig trees, and they have affected humanity in profound but little-known ways. Gods, Wasps and Stranglers tells their amazing story.Fig trees fed our pre-human ancestors, influenced diverse cultures and played key roles […] Read More
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