One of the nice things — or at least one of the interesting things — about living in a middleish sort of latitude (about 44 degrees if you were wondering; about 44 degrees even if you weren’t) is (are?) the seasons. Things change, the view outside the window is rarely the same for long. From spring days where slightly pasty semi-clothed people wave giant fly swatters in the back yard to summer evenings where the sun doesn’t want to set to bone-chilling winter days where it’s dark well before dinnertime, it’s always a little different from the week before. And the transition from one season to another? That might just be the best part.
The days get longer. It gets warmer. You get to see the snow melt. The garden starts to appear. But you also get to see every single ‘present’ the neighborhood canines have left on the lawn in the last four months. You get to see all the winter kill that you have to clean up. And you have to chip at least five inches of ice off of the front porch. (For this there are purpose-built tools designed for the job, some of them quite good. Many folks, though, use tools improvised from whatever they find in the garage. Some, the balance of their minds clearly disturbed, use wildly inappropriate ones. For example.)
Anyway, it’s spring. Which means the end of, among other things, winter sports. Winter hockey, for example, (which is not the same as spring hockey which itself differs from summer hockey) ended about a month ago. When it winds down there are various… traditions. The obligatory ‘banquet’ (which often just means going to a bar and eating chips). The inevitable picture of tired-looking and smelly hockey players. Viz:
This year, for example, I was the proud (?) recipient of the ‘invisible defenceman’ award. (In the spirit of invisibility, the trophy is transparent. With this in mind, I choose to interpret the award as a recognition of my incredibly stealthy and effective play. Unfortunately I know better — it’s telling me that I’m never in the right place or anything close to it. Oh well, it could have been worse — one lucky soul took home the ‘Most Circles Around The Net While Possessing The Puck Without Scoring a Goal’ award.)
The curling season also ended recently. Despite an extended mid-season death spiral (not that kind) I managed occasional flashes of competence during the playoffs — almost enough to salvage a result. Unfortunately, though, the flashes didn’t last long enough and I was left with the memory of losing the final game of the year because of a bad miss on my LAST SHOT OF THE YEAR. (Talk about treasured memories that will haunt me (is that the right verb?) all summer.) It could have ended on a high note but, um, it didn’t.
A tradition for the end of curling season is ‘skating out the ice’ — a day when people are encouraged to show up and use the ice in a non-traditional way after which the power is turned off and things, you know, start to melt. Every year a modest number of people show up and demonstrate that they’re better skaters than I am. (Except for some of the infants. I can say without fear of contradiction that I’m better than some of those.) This year I learned (or at least re-learned) several things.
- Curling ice really isn’t particularly easy to skate on.
- Skating is harder when you don’t carry a bludgeon.
- Stepping down six inches to get to the ice makes starting to skate just that little bit harder.
Apparently I wasn’t the only one to have that last revelation. After my skate I was sitting on the side boards putting my shoes on when a young lady — she couldn’t have been more than about six — attempted to climb down onto the ice. She was having a certain amount of difficulty with this. After falling once (I felt absurdly proud that this was more than me) and almost falling twice more, she proclaimed to all and sundry
“I can’t get it up.”
Every day for the last two weeks I’ve tried to figure out why she chose to phrase it in exactly that fashion.