"In the night...the scream of the rabbit is terrible. But the scream of the owl which is not of pain and hopelessness and fear of being plucked out the world, but of the sheer rollicking glory of the death-bringer, is more terrible still. When I hear it resounding through the woods, and then the five black pellets of its song dropping like stones into the air, I know I am standing on the edge of the mystery, in which terror is naturally and abundantly part of life, part of even the most becalmed, intelligent, sunny life--as for example, my own. The world where the owl is endlessly hungry and endlessly on the hunt is the world in which I live, too. There is only one world."
Mary Oliver, Blue Pastures

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Happy Solstice, the Last Time I saw Santa

At 72, without young children or grandchildren, Santa Claus has drifted from my life. 

As I recall, the last time I saw St. Nick in person was some 40 years ago at Bob and Florence's home in Clarks Grove. It was a traditional, quiet family gathering. We were in the living room, comfortable after a big meal, digesting with some of Bob's home brew poured out of a jar, an apricot brandy as recall. It was a small living room, made smaller by the big Christmas tree by the window, so the excited children were scattered about on the floor opening gifts or playing with new toys. As I said, it really was a very small home, so some of the young couples were double-stacked in chairs, with the young men's laps serving as seats for their ladies. Which seemed to suit both parties.

It was quiet, just laughing children, soft conversation and a Perry Como Silent Night LP playing on Bob's Heathkit Stereo. He was quite proud of it. He had built the wood cabinet from scratch and assembled the tube-type components from kits. I do not know how it would sound compared to a modern set-up, but at that time we only had a handful of LPs to play and we thought it all was quite fine. 

Anyway, back to our tale. Suddenly without a knock or a hello, a fully costumed Santa burst through the front door, running about, hollering, "Ho! Ho! Ho, Mer-ry Christ-mas", again and again and again. The kids were terrified. Hell, the adults were more than a little uneasy until we realized that our personal old elf had more than a hint of liquor his breath, a bottle at his hip and sounded a bit like the late Gordie Hanson, who lived up the street. And poor Santa was escorted into the cold night air a bit roughly. (We found out later he was supposed to be at a party next door and wandered into the wrong house.)

It should noted here that Gordie had a long history. Among a list of things, he painted long, rambling political commentary in neat black letters on his white garage door. He also had a black, full-sized, carbide cannon on his roof, put there by his neighbors after he shot it off at 2:00 in the morning once too often. They put there on the theory that he would generally would be too drunk to find a ladder if he was in a cannon discharging frame of mind. It perched up there unshot for years.
And then there was the parachuting dog incident. 😢

(An aside: Was this the year that Kurt brought all the presents "wrapped" in grocery bags? We still use the large teak salad bowel.)

Happy Solstice,
Be well,
Gunnar