New England Patriots Gameday: Jacob’s Ladder

Gathering all morning and into the afternoon, the steadily darkening clouds signal the passing cold front, preparing to dump plenty of snow and freezing rain on Lewiston, making me certain that Foxboro, some 160 miles to the south, is already experiencing the weather – setting an appropriate visual for this December early afternoon.

Seasonably cool with a breeze, ever so slight, makes the difference between shirt sleeves and a winter jacket.  I am quite comfortable in my Belichickian-style Hoodie, complete with faded mustard stains and sleeves appropriately chopped mid-forearm.

“The clouds prepare for battle In the dark and brooding silence…”

Intimidating: The three World Championship Banners

Fittingly, the Rush tune Jacob’s Ladder emanates from the speakers of my car as I drive to the market, filling my ears with the congruously somber story telling from the power trio,  synchronizing my hearing with my other senses as I traverse the slushy streets…filling my day as I wait with baited breath the football game this evening – my beloved Patriots mere hours away from tangling with the team with the best record in the NFL.

This weather – could it be just one more advantage that the Patriots have over the Texans?  Not much of this blustery stuff in Houston, at least not the snow and freezing rain, though they have their share of inclimate weather, particularly during the Hurricane season…but they can always close the roof to their field…

“Bruised and sullen storm clouds Have the light of day obscured…”

The market is packed.  The threat of the increasing wintery mix combined with the late prime time start for the Patriots finds a curious cross section of this dirty little central Maine town in the aisles…a snow day meant no school today, so the normally quiet and mellow store is alive with packs of moping teenagers, penny-counting tweeners and wailing toddlers accompanying their tired-looking mothers…

The approaching game is much on my mind as I negotiate the clogged aisles.  My shopping list a game plan, I find myself making adjustments, tweaking the game time menu as I discover that Nathan’s Red Hot Dogs are on sale.  I sweep past the rows, quickly glancing down each as I seek daylight to run towards – the booze aisle suddenly opens up and I make a sharp cut to the left, passing by the cold beer and trendy flavored vodka…almost to the coffee creamer…

The hole closes quickly as old men stoop to the bottom shelf for the cheap house-brand whiskey and Coffee Brandy.  Deftly, I am able to slide past them for my first score, but I can’t take time to celebrate because I still need mayonaisse for my potato salad, so I’ll have to brave the condiment aisle, where the yards come tough – the old blue-haired french women await, pretending to hunt for bargains but keeping an eye on your midsection, not willing to let you slip past them…

“Looming low and ominous In twilight premature Thunderheads are rumbling In a distant overture… “

The Foxboro Militia fires a salute after each score…

And then Alex Leifson breaks into a proper guitar solo, as I slide once again behind the wheel of my bright red Grand Am – Rush’s Permanent Waves in the CD player, perfect music for a day that, to weather lovers like me, bring comfort like being wrapped in a warm blanket.  I have several more stops as I attempt to fill my day while waiting for my Patriots to take the field…

Soon, the masterful sounds of Rush will be replaced by the cool grey call of Mike Tirico and the objective wisdom of John Gruden, the lights of Gillette Stadium causing a slight glare on the wet field turf – bringing back vile memories of the Jets’ Joe Washington returning the overtime kickoff in a late fall deluge, also on a Monday night in Foxboro…

“All at once, the clouds are parted. Light streams down in bright unbroken beams…”

…but that was Foxboro Stadium in an era that time wants to forget, it’s bones covered like ancient fossils by the heavy wet asphalt of Gillette’s parking lot , it’s ghost roaming the broad corridors of Patriot Place and standing guard to The Hall, an eerie sentry to a troubled past now buried, it’s casket covered by three banners, it’s final resting place marked by three shining Lombardi Trophies, hopefully to remain entombed by success forever.

Dynasties die easy unlike the eras of failure and disappointment, which never really die at all.  They are always on our minds as we obssess in our pregame routines, causing us to doubt – for the pain of those days can still be felt 13 years after first ascending to the title of Dynasts…and it’s not over, and will not be until our hooded leader says it is by his conspicuous absence.

Until then, we will continue to live the dream – hopefully to remember them always, and to appriciate being able to witness it as it happened…

“Follow men’s eyes as they look to the skies. The shifting shafts of shining weave the fabric of their dreams…”

Topics: Houston Texans, New England Patriots

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