February - The Mud Month
2/15/2013  Production

Jacob White, Production

Hello there, good people of the cyberscape! I must have started this blog half a dozen times, with half as many half-cocked topics, when I realized that the month of February herself is worthy of a few paragraphs of our attention. In many parts of the world, notably the Orient, February still marks the last month of the year. The old lunar calendar of the Romans originally held winter to be a month-less period, but January and February were added around 700BCE. The name February is the Anglicization of Februarius from the Latin februum meaning "purification" or "cleansing." The English word febrile, defined as symptomatic of fever or displaying nervous excitement or energy, is a holdover of this ancient name.

In Old English February was Solmonath, the Mud Month. I can attest to the muddiness. This year I attended a Mardi Gras celebration near Eunice, Louisiana, which was called Courir de Savoy. Festivities began around 7 a.m. this year with the clinging fog only beginning to clear and obnubilous skies proving useless in determining signs of further rains. Luckily I was wearing stomping boots and knew full well my costume likely would be a kind of cultural casualty.

After registering and some initial dancing, hundreds of glee-seekers struck off. We traveled down what would have been a dirt road save for the rains of late, with the watchful eye of the Capitaines, who policed the Villains and scolded or even waylaid us if we littered or failed to observe custom. Our first stop, which presaged the next few, was a family's front yard and as the procession approached their front porch everyone began to genuflect and the raucous noise bowed as well. We held up one palm pointing to it, signaling our beggar status, just as the fiddle began its lugubrious lament. I didn't know the words to the old Cajun tune, but soon I was humming along as all around me people sang.

Soon we were up and dancing, we chased a chicken which was released as a symbolic offering, and before long were on our way again. Later in the day we pushed a bus through a saturated field (admittedly with help from a tractor) and tried to release a guinea caged atop a twenty foot greasepole. Before our walking parade made the last turn back to our starting point, we stopped at the cemetery. In the way the ocean is the greatest body on the surface of Earth, this low point was a sort of climax. The musicians played softly and once more we all stooped or sat, acquiescing to the beautiful sad song and the beautiful old woman who stood now taller than all but the band and gravestones. Some ceremony was satisfied and then a gentleman spoke, not a speech or a sermon, but just a simple sort of evocation which I found serenely satisfying.

After the graveyard, we paraded on to complete the circuit and the massive roiling pots of gumbo awaited our slow slog. Some of the musicians from the parade, as well as new ones, set up and the dancing arose afresh. As I ate, I marked how I felt, and it was good. Next year in Eunice! Although next year Mardi Gras is in March (the fourth) and we are focused for a little longer on February. One date that in a relative way does not change is Superbowl Sunday. Each year it falls on the first February of the year, and Louisiana had the pleasure of hosting that singular event not two weeks ago.

The New Orleans Superdome was the site of the monstrosity that we now call The Big Game, and each year the tech gets better. You probably saw various transition shots of great views of the Crescent City if you watched on television. When they went to commercial the director would first take a few seconds from one of dozens of GoPro cameras poised throughout the city. As tools like these continue to become priced more like toys, we can hope to see more and better perspectives of our world and our inter-relatedness. In that grain, AOC Community Media will continue to serve our area with its structural support providing the public with media gear to produce their own content and outlets to allow their ideas to see the light of day, and of course as a small part of the interstitial network that is the invisible community we comprise.

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