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"Momentum's grinding gearbox knows only forward …"

The LastDay arrives like a thief in the night, just like Scripture predicted it would; one minute separating familiarity and eternity. Eternity's reported to last a lot longer, but infinite, beyond anyone's ability to grasp, while the familiar seems as if I somehow possess it, though it actually exists like a kinescope image, mere flickering flashes of light and darkness. Real, of course, has always been a controversial concept, us being such unreliable observers and all. I've been reluctantly imbedded in what began as an unwanted winter, now feeling as though I'm teetering on the edge of losing something precious, for yesterday was the very last full day of AnotherWinter. I had to look it up to confirm the rumor. By 9:16AM PDT this morning, AnotherSpring will have arrived.

The thermometer insisted the temperature was thirty degrees when I left the house this morning, not an unusual Winter morning temperature.
Overnight frosts have persisted much later than usual this year, whatever usual might be. For me, usual amounts to fogged over recollections which I'm fairly certain never actually happened, a notional average, an actual never. I suppose that I imprint on those experiences that feel most reassuring or frightening, never accepting the odd outliers or even the actual averages as valid representations of real. The Wintertime False Springs do little to blunt my impression that Winter remains unrelentingly chilling. Likewise, a Spring snowstorm fails to convince me that the entire season's more like Late March than May, when it's both and neither.

Both and neither describes most of what I consider most tenaciously familiar here. I think of this hometown as backward and progressive, depending upon which street I find myself walking along. The classifications belong solely to me, for I originated them before assigning them to little slices of my personal experience, trying to sum up my existence, I guess. But existence doesn't easily sum, if it sums at all. I might reassure myself by fooling myself into believing that I understand, though I later find that I did not. I might reasonably conclude that I could not possibly have understood and so accept that I will not understand because, however I might classify, I run into another both/neither dichotomy. As Victor Hugo insisted, "It was the best of times. It was the worst of times." Nothing particularly noteworthy about that observation, Vic.

Snow still hugs the foothills like it did more than a month ago. More fell up there in Sunday, nearly reaching the broad valley floor before that latest storm ambled off to the East. The valley rain felt icy enough, her cold fingers sliding down the back of my neck, feeling anything but beneficent there. Her chilling touch might well have been a last grasp, preface to warmer rains coming, a next to last chapter of a long and ultimately satisfying season. I deeply dreaded Winter's arrival, but that sensation seems so last year now, it having overtaken me last year and all. It's this year now, not last. What's past is still past. My anxiety when facing AnotherWinter seemed to little influence my experience here, other than to show me up for the fool I most certainly most of the time am.

The surest way to attract adventure might be to begin by denying the call to adventure. The confident, jodhpur-clad explorer ain't anybody but Hollywood's norm. My norm might more closely resemble Arthur Dent, a man in his bathrobe and carpet slippers wandering a multi-dimensional universe, by turns pissed and curious, rarely satisfied. His base disgruntlement seems to fuel his experience. His vehement denials rarely granted. He's constantly coping with adventure he only hoped he could avoid. Only in reflection could his travels seem attractive. In the moment, in each successive moment, they mostly terrified him.

Transitions always terrify me. I hold onto a handful of wet, originally unwanted snow, hoping somehow to prolong a season I have by now grown accustomed to, familiar with. Unsure who I might become under the influence of receding darkness and increasingly insistent sunlight, I see the flowering crabapple repeat a promise that seems more like a threat at first. Bare branches, well-suited to a season of predictably unpredictable winds and snows, suddenly giving way to ones over-burdened with foliage, an open invitation for a Mother's Day snowstorm to brutally prune and wound. The future always arrives with an open invitation to prune and wound. Always has. Always will. No known tactic turns this inexorable tide. Today simultaneously turns into tomorrow and yesterday, some days leaving little but a half-handful of wet, melting snow, prolonging nothing. The flicker picture continues offering only the barest illusion of both/neither continuity, of the eternity we're said to be marching into. On the LastDay, acceptance eventually greets the dawn. Momentum's grinding gearbox knows only forward, onward, upward or downward, never still, never back.

©2018 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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