Saturday, January 7, 2012

The varying familiarities of when 'tis the season

The fragments of familiarity you find, reminding you of times when 'twas the season in seasons past, seem stronger and more familiar in some places and some faces, but certainly, and sadly, still somehow they’ve become overall more unfamiliar across the board over time. Sometimes so seldom and sporadic do you see the same familiar fragments in their recollected sequence or similar circumstance from when 'twas the season in seasons past, that you can't seem to see them presently, even though presently, in every sense, they are present.

But really, it's just you who’ve been so far away for so long, and then all of a sudden so close. You can only see one petal of one branch of one snowflake, but you’re really in the middle of the snow storm; So far away and then suddenly so close, you've forgotten how to embrace the familiarity of the snow.

So sorry are you to think that essentially, it sounds like you're beginning to succumb to what the doctor would diagnose as the early on-settings of some sort of senility, brought on by a sans-synchronized, or sans-sequential sense-stimulation that would normally form the feelings of familiarity from when 'twas the season in seasons past. That is to say: without some of the reminiscent symbols in the room, or a specific synchronization in sequence of events (a couple branches of the snowflakes, or even a few full flakes of snow) ~ without that, you can't recognize or remember some of the same simple patterns or even sights and sounds that have been there since before you were a sniffling little snot and your older siblings were still adolescents. It's only you who thinks the snow is too unfamiliar to be recognized as what was there every single time when 'twas the season in seasons past, as well as presently present. It's only you who thinks it's unfamiliar.

And quite sadly, such is the case in some circumstances so much so that if something or even some soul who was indeed as familiar as the dreaming-of-a-white-Christmas-Minnesota Snow (the snow that's been present every single season when 'twas the season in seasons past) presented themselves outside of their recollected context, you may not recollect them at all. To you, the returning nomad from the north, they are about as unfamiliar as celebrating the season with someone else’s summertime memorabilia.

But seeing as how you are the sentient being you are, it's hardly sensible for anyone to say that you don't know the difference between something that is actually unfamiliar and something that only seems to be, but is actually a similar circumstance or previous acquaintance from when 'twas the season in seasons past.

You’re damn right, it is.

So what, then was so damn unfamiliar about the place? Was it you? It could have just been you who seem unfamiliar. But no, no, no. The familiarity - familial, friendly and otherwise, was there, no?


There was your family, and that was familiar. Though the family's familiarity, like the familiarities of most families, has evolved. There are new kids running 'round the house, horsing 'round, getting horsey rides, and doing roundhouses.  Your oldest sister's oldest is the boy with reasonable and chronological career aspirations of (1) Marine (2) Astronaut (3) Policeman (4) Cowboy.

Your oldest sister's youngest
and your youngest sister's only
are both cute as buttons,
but their speech is still molding.

The lighthearted hometown hockey game for the old times' sake of old-timers is familiar enough to make you feel at home. The locker room reeks of the layers upon layers upon layers of old sweat that’s been caked into all the pads and straps over several seasons from seasons past. When they’re in the locker room, the fellows are to themselves, bros. In the locker room, they can share beers, and chewing tobacco, pieces of hockey equipment, and foul language.

"Hey, man, you got any extra tape?"

"Sure as shit do. You you don’t got a lace, do ya?"

"Yea, I think I got an extra one in here. Hey toss me one of those beers, wouldja, Olie?"

The familiarity of the fragmented names that get used in hockey games brings you back to your state of familiarity with more than just skates. It’s not uncommon that a fellow’s name is altered by first contracting the surname to its beginning syllable, then adding a suffix to the syllable, like “lie” or “sky” or “o.” Sometimes no suffix is added at all, chopping the name down to one, solid syllable. You could guess all day at why “Johnson” must become “Johns” or “Olson” is “Olie.” Does it make the name easier to yell in a chant? Is it a callback to the way so many NHL players’ names sound (e.g. The Great Gretzky)?

No matter. It was all familiar enough. So familiar in fact that you had a grand old time as a grand old-timer. A few assists, some shots on net, nothin' pretty, bruises to boot. But you played hockey. That's for damn sure.

Did you see all your friends and share a time with them? Well, you knew going into it that there was no way to see everybody. It’s too bad, but you never will be able to have enough time when 'tis the season and you go back to Minnesota, because you're too busy chasing a few of the faint familiarities of times when ‘twas the season in seasons past, and running fast from others.  Why haven’t you got the time to stay longer?

Because the world keeps on spinning,
whether you’re in step with the tune or not.
And past ‘tis the season is only ‘twas the season,
and the season can start to rot.

So if you knew you weren’t going to see everyone then that sensation, having to say goodbye by text without really saying hello, isn't unfamiliar either, is it?

Is it?

What is it, then, that you still think is screaming at you as being there that shouldn’t be, or absent that should be present? What’s your problem? Why can't you see the snow? What unfamiliarity do you think it is that's there that you don't know.

Ladies and gentlemen, 'tis now days past from when 'twas the season, this season last, and there's something the folks should know: The report from Minnesota, the so-familiar state you know, just this last season when 'twas the season, and now: there is no snow.

Sometimes when words are on the page, they can blend in with all the black and white of the other letters, and can subsequently lose some of their impact when perceived only as minuscule parts of a greater, more complicated sum. So you're going to write that one again. You're  going to write it again because you want us all to share with you in the gravity of it. You, especially you, who know us so personally as you do. You can’t lie to us. We’ll know if you’re lying, and you’ll know if we are; and that's why you're going to take the time for the sake of us all to write it again:

Friends, in Minnesota,
the so-familiar state we know,
just this last season when 'twas the season,
and now: there is no snow.

You know you're not lying. You know you saw what you saw. There's no god damn snow on the ground for Christmas in Minnesota. What season is this with the grass growing and showing no snow that you know from when 'twas the season in seasons past?

In 27 seasons when 'twas the season,
at least the 27 that you know,
you've never seen said season
in Minnesota without snow.


Nor have you seen any official documentation that would show said circumstance from seasons past or seasons long ago.

Everyone on the prairie knows just how unfamiliar it is. You can see it in their silent nods and their one-finger waves from their drivers' seats. Nobody's complaining. But they all agree that it seems unfamiliar to have the season when 'tis the season, but to have it without snow.

And you, coming back to the prairie, can't help but feel akin to Augustus McCrae when he came back to the prairie and, for the first time, he realized that the buffalo indeed were gone. Old Gus had heard stories that the buffalo hunters had taken the hides of entire herds and that there was nothing left. But he didn't believe it until he rode on. He saw prairie after prairie packed full of piles of buffalo bones. Bones of entire herds, massacred for their hides, and then left to rot on the big buffalo skeletons, or for the buzzards who could get to the meat before it went rancid. Most of it did go rancid, but whether the meat got used or not, the unfamiliar reality was still presently present to Old Gus: the buffalo were gone.

Ladies and gentlemen, in Minnesota,
the so-familiar state you know,
just this last season when 'twas the season,
and now: there is no snow.

And you hope to God it comes back. But you saw what you saw this season when 'twas the season. And you've never seen a buffalo.

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