We were early this morning by 10 minutes. Early - even only a little - always feels good; it always feels like there's time to relax and let the world meet you where it wants to.
The CD player was bellowing out tunes to sooth Silas, the studded snowtires were ticking along and Annabel was conversing with herself in her usual voice - a combination song and chant - when I noticed the train rolling along beside us.
I sped up. My Civic gained on the Canadian rail cars.
"Look, Annabel, we're racing the train."
She stopped talking long enough to look out her window. She was excited. I turned the radio down to hear her better:
"Mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy ... MOOOOOOOOOOTHER! We're winning. We're winning. Take a picture. Take a picture. No. No. Let me take a picture. ... "
I laughed when we got to the end of the line - the railroad crossing. I put the car in park and cut the engine as the lights on the signal blaired and the arms of the crossing sign lowered. We had almost beaten the train for real. The conductor waved as the locomotive's engine passed the crossing in front of us.
I dug out the camera from my bag and switched it on, then handed it back to Annabel.
Keeping both eyes open she snapped away, occasionally looking down at the display to see what she'd gotten. She was delighted when the camera flashed bits of train parts back to her.
"I'm going to keep taking pictures, OK?"
"That's a great idea," I said. "Looks like this is going to be a long one."
When I turned the volume back up this was playing.