Sterry Butcher has a very nice piece in Texas Monthly on the romance of the railroad in West Texas.
It began this summer, when we slept with our windows open. The first time it happened, I awoke in the middle of the night not knowing what Iâ€™d heard. It sounded like loony laughter from a dozen different souls, some of them clapping weird noisemakers, before their demented hilarity abruptly ceased. Moonlight streamed into the room. The Catahoula at the foot of the bed listened too, eyes shining and ears pricked. The trainâ€™s horn blew from the tracks a mile away, a winsome four-blast call: â€œIâ€™m here; Iâ€™m here; here, Iâ€™m here.â€ Immediately the party erupted again, but now, with my wits about me, I recognized the troublemakers. Coyotes. Coyotes howling and yipping in answer to the train.
Why these coyotes accompany the trainâ€™s wail, I do not know, but theyâ€™ve continued in the months since, always in the gloaming or cloaked by night, sometimes quite close to the house, which sets the Catahoula to lift a lip and rumble meaningfully. A strange, long string of interspecies communication has thus evolved: the train warning people of its approach, the coyotes calling to the train, the dog cautioning the coyotes that home, this place, is off limits, while I lay a comforting hand on the dogâ€™s paw in the dark.