Railway station building converted to cafe Author's own photo
I was sitting in a café sipping a cappuccino the other day when I started thinking about all sorts of changes that come with time. That led to me asking questions and coming up with some hypotheses. I could find the answers to some of my questions with a bit of research. Other questions couldn’t be answered with a high degree of certainty. That led me to wonder if sometimes it doesn’t matter if we find the answer to a question. Maybe sometimes the process of questioning and hypothesising is what’s important.
There are times it is definitely important to find the answer to a question and to be sure that answer is correct. When there is a safety issue one needs to know the answer.
People tend to like to know the answer to questions. They like to know facts and that sort of knowledge can be useful for exams and at a trivia night. Some feel a great deal of pride when they can provide an answer and prove they are right, especially if others had no idea.
Quite often ‘knowledge’ seems to be in a state of flux. One thinks a certain food is ‘good’ and then new research suggests differently. It works the other way too. The same uncertainty comes with information in other areas
As I sat I looked around at the café. In years gone by it was a railway station building. There was a large old fashioned clock hanging on the wall. I wondered if it was the original clock that people had referred to as they asked how long to the next train. Maybe it wasn’t even from a railway station.
I thought about the steam trains that would have carried passengers many years ago. What type of engines and carriages were they? What trains replaced them? Were they the trains we called ‘Red Hens’? A few minutes research on the internet when I got home answered my question. Yes, Red Hens replaced the steam trains on this line.
Then I asked myself some questions about what effect the building of the railway line would have had on the environment. I looked out of the window at the gum trees on the other side of the track. I imagine lots of trees would have been chopped down when the line was laid. How many trees would have been removed?
I saw a couple of birds fly into one of the trees. How did building the railway line effect the bird population? I wondered about the species of birds around the station. Are they the same as when the station was established? What effect did the establishing of local industries have on the bird population? Numerous other questions came to my mind.
There are some questions that are not easy to answer as there may be no records. Sometimes records are incomplete. Some things, like the number of birds in an area fluctuates from season to season and year to year and is influenced by a number of factors.
Maybe sometimes it doesn’t matter if you find the answer to your question. Perhaps the important thing is that you observe, are inquisitive, ask questions and have an open mind.