The river Favre hasn’t frozen over. People up north who said they knew the river also said it would freeze over in December, that a thin skein of ice would form along its long weary arms and the river would come to a standstill.
They said that a cold snap would tire the old river out, that the hoary breath of winter and the wear and tear of time would bring it to a halt. And once the ice was firm over the river, you could walk upon it; scuff your heels if you wanted.
The river was supposed to freeze over. Many people said it would. They told warnings with fingers wagging to just wait until winter.
But the river Favre hasn’t frozen this year. It just courses along with its dark swirling eddies flowing against the steady current of time. Those same dark pools hold their secrets like scars hidden on flesh or blackened autumn leaves waiting to decompose, but those secrets are buried without mystery.
One of our ways of coping against our own river of time flowing past, is to permit ourselves a nostalgia, a remembrance of things frozen in time like Drew Pearson catching a certain pass, or long streams of icy breath emerging from battered helmets, but the river Favre is too cowboy to play nostalgia for anyone. The river knows but one thing: that its purpose is to flow.
The river Favre courses against the natural declension of the land; it meanders under banks cut away, banks whose faces have been worn away like sidelines jammed with players too old to play anymore, eroded and ravaged from a game whose wear and tear does just that. The river has outlived its old rivals and flows past its new ones: Rodgers, Cutler, Stafford, division waters brought to a standstill, all iced over.
There are oxbows in the river Favre, but not tributaries. Oxbows: where the U-shaped bend splits the river around a stranded wedge of land and flows in a circle, one fork of the current moving back against itself to rejoin the waters upstream. This is not indecision, but rather a roundabout way to rejoin the flow it has just left.
The river Favre used to be reckless: its churning rapids would gush to escape the oncoming rush; reckless in the scramble to avoid the submerged danger of the sack, reckless in its abandonment of a trusted cargo—a football throw up for grabs, plucked in mid-air and run back against the flow.
But not anymore. It pours over rocks like a thing of beauty, its purpose intact, the cargo protected. A Julius Peppers came charging, but the river was alert to the danger.
Thus for one fan where the river flows freely now, in the dead of winter, the river sparkles luminous and grand. There is no trade off from the eternal return here , the recurrence of water flowing past the banks of the stream, from where everything is seen, but seen with the stale air of the all too familiar.
And who among us is not watching? Who has turned their backs on the river flowing past? No one. Even the least thirsty of us, ones who would never bend to scoop a drink from its surface must wonder: what will happen next? Who will overpower who? What desperate turn will force a hand? How will the river flow when its great opposing force from Texas arrives?
Now the river measures its wares, wary we’ll say, but there is a Spencer and a Ratliff too. The river has studied its Brady James, its Marcus Spears, its Mike Jenkins. It knows where it must and must not flow, the speed of its release, where there is time to rest.
So today, with snow melting in a mild January thaw, the river once more rises to the occasion against a formidable foe. And watch, the river flows. Mid-winter, and no sign of freezing over yet.