Pond Hockey!

Last weekend I played pond hockey on Stroadwater River until way past when my body said I should stop. I haven’t played like that for a long time and I had forgotten how much fun and all consuming the game can be. The puck, and the skaters, only rested during the short moments when the puck was off in a snowbank and had to be retrieved.

I completely lost myself in the action and getting lost in anything is something I treasure.  In addition to the joys of skating and hitting things with sticks through a pair of boots separated into goal posts, instant camaraderie buoyed our spirits.  It was like being a kid again. And, just like when I was a kid, I forgot many of the players’ names–but that didn’t matter. Our time together was all about playing and cheering on great moves for both teammates and opponents. Most of the players were kids and the adults were all fabulous at supporting them as they learned how to play. For me, this was a huge part of the joy of the day.

skating 1

The afternoon tournament began when my friend Laura, who lives up a steep bank from the river, posted an open invite on Facebook. When I read it, I dropped what I was doing, garnered support from my dear husband, tried to convince my children to join me (they declined), grabbed my skates and went. I was undeterred by the fact that my last pond hockey game was back in my twenties or that the majority of my current day skating involves gentle looping about with my young kids.

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The game kept changing as the teams kept shifting personnel, with the younger ones frequently ducking out to join other skaters on the ice outside the game or to drink hot chocolate, and the older ones taking breaks to socialize or tend to their families elsewhere. It was incredible how lopsided the teams often were, and the most dramatic match-up pitted a trio of grown women against seven boys. The fun just didn’t stop. We played hard.

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The ice was in great condition. There were a few big cracks which were easy to blame when I ended up on my rear end a few times. Cracks happen, despite the tremendous effort Laura and friends put in the night before to get the ice ready. They shoveled and even brought some hot water down to the ice to smooth out some rough spots.

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I am already looking forward to the next ad-hoc game, which will hopefully be soon. I hereby volunteer for prepping the ice the next time. It takes a community to keep our our frozen waterways ready for skating, and I need to be part of it and frankly, it is part of the fun. The efforts of Laura, her family and friends this weekend sure made for a great rink, a memorable afternoon, and deepened my longing to play again soon.skating 3

Super Dad Lets Mom Ski Alone

Pineland 1Pineland 2Allow me to take a minute to give my husband huge props.  He’s always helpful and supportive buy lately he’s just taken it up a few notches on the super husband scale.  He’s been editing most of my blog posts and helping me on the technical side of things.  He bought me a new camera for Christmas that I really, really love.  He also found the perfect bag for me to carry the camera in on various types of outings and bought all the things I’d need to use this fine machine right away.

He’s also supporting me to find content to write about… getting outside.  This past three day weekend he watched both kids so that I could ski at Pineland for the first time this year and then two days later was totally supportive when I asked to go play pond hockey–alone again!  Now for my parent friends out there–you know how special a little alone time can be but to have two trips alone within three days…  Sigh, so deeply appreciated.

Thanks Hans Indigo Spencer for so lovingly supporting me and this here blog thing we’ve got going on.  I adore you.

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This is how my kids react every single time they see snow falling from the sky.  Most of the time it is the way I respond too.  I instantly start thinking about how I can find some time to cross country ski or when I can get my kids to a big sledding hill.  Of course I also think about shoveling and when that will happen–but most of the time, I get excited for snow.

Except there was that time in early November, or maybe it was late October when it snowed, and I wasn’t ready–this could be said almost every year because I’m almost never totally ready to transition from fall to winter.  I felt like I hadn’t even enjoyed the changing of the colors of our fall leaves, I certainly hadn’t raked them all into brown bags for the city to pick up, and where the heck were all the mittens, hats, snow pants, and of course winter boots!  I prayed they would fit for one more year.   So that morning, as my son and I walked downstairs together and then looked out the window at the bottom of the stairs, before I could think twice I said, “Uugh, snow.”  My son was shocked by my tone and asked, “Why do grownups always get disappointed when it snows?”

Instead of sharing with him all the reasons why I wasn’t excited for snow, I just heard him.  So why is it that we can’t get excited–there are so many reasons… snow days that mess up our work days; mittens, one of the pair can never be found–and then you find a pair and the child wants the other ones–the ones that you can’t find; shoveling; it takes forever to get the kids out the door–snow pants, gloves (matching gloves!), getting gloves on top of little fingers, zipping winter coats for children who have gloves on, boots—oh my!; digging out the car, dealing with poorly plowed streets, and of course, driving is more dangerous.

Undoubtedly, as adults, there are many reasons to be frustrated with snow.  But ask yourself, how do you want your kids to respond to seeing snow falling gently from the sky…  Do you want them to respond the way you would have when you were a child? Do you want them to scream out, “Snow!” with enthusiasm and eager energy to get outside to play in it?  I ask you to consider your adult response to snow when in front of your children.  You can think whatever you want, and you certainly can say whatever you want, but do so knowing that what you say out loud (or with your facial expression) in front of your kids will affect their thoughts.

porch chair snow

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our garage snow

A Gray Day Highlights the Colors

My husband encouraged us all to get outside for a morning walk–no easy feat this morning.  I’m slowly recovering from a virus, my son seems to be getting one, and my daughter seems to be fighting one successfully but has less energy than normal.

We walked through the cemetery and into the woods behind it.  I was struck by the contrast in colors despite the overcast and foggy gray day.  Some photos for your enjoyment.

evergreen heart shaped tree

evergreen entrance

evergreen church arch

evergreen main street

evergreen charlie on snow bank

evergreen knot in tree

evergreen fog in forest green bushesevergreen fog through young forest

evergreen erica smile

It was a lovely walk and now we can settle into a toasty warm house.  Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Sitting on a Dock On a Winter’s Eve

Last night I lay on my back, gazing at bright stars littering a clear January sky.  The dock juts out over one of many coves of Casco Bay, and there was just enough space on one edge to let my two friends and me lie on dry wooden planks.  We had been celebrating our recent sailing season together and were planning big things for the next one.

Here we lay, in the winter chill between two distant summers, our spirits warmed by wine and the excitement of future racing plans.  We let our hands loll in the freezing water and were delighted to see the brilliant and plentiful phosphorescence, something I’ve only seen in the summer time.  The water temperature has dropped significantly since my swim in it a little less than two weeks ago.  In fact I swear we sat there and could hear the water actively freezing.  It was a sound I’d never heard before, eerie and exciting all at the same time.

The dock lies at the bottom of a path which leads up to our skipper’s house, where earlier in the evening he hosted our sailing team for dinner.  It was a rare off-the-water occasion, which offered a more relaxed vibe than the stresses of a high wind regatta, and gave us a chance to connect and marked the year’s upcoming regattas on our calendars, especially those we need to succeed in to qualify for a big one in 2014:  the J24 World Championship in Newport.

So inside, we reflected on the past and planned for the future.  Outside on the dock, though, we were all present, a little bit chilly but warmed by the connection between friends–strengthened by the outdoor experience. And that’s one of the many things I love about this Everyday Outside Challenge.  Maintaining that one simple commitment brings many unique outings to my life, lounging on a gentle dock deep in winter is not something I would have done if it hadn’t been for my commitment to spend at least 30 minutes outside every single day.

So even if you’re not doing the 365 Everyday Outside Challenge, go ahead and say that you are and rope your friends into joining you.  Who knows, you may just be lucky enough to have one unique outdoor adventure, with friendships that are strengthened because of it.

Zamboni or People Powered Pond Scrappers?

We went skating for the first time this winter last Saturday, and it was wonderful.  We joined friends at Lee Twombly Pond, Falmouth’s outdoor skating rink.  I adore this place.  We skated as the sun set, took breaks near the outdoor fire place, listened to pop music, appreciated an iron railing that surrounds half the rink, giving way to an elegant low stone wall on the other side for my youngest to hold onto for her first lap (and then to abandon as she found her balance).

After many laps around this irregular shaped rink, we found ourselves drinking hot cocoa while watching the zamboni.   Skating on the smooth ice afterwards was appreciated by all.   The brilliant colors of the sun set dimmed giving way to the twinkles of the Christmas lights hung on both evergreens and bare deciduous trees.

Anica falmouth preciousTracy by fire

sunset falmouth 2skating falmouth whole pondboys falmouthboy in red falmouth pushing carts

The next day we wanted to skate again, but we didn’t want to drive to Falmouth or fork over another $20, so we walked down by the nearby high school to a pond where many people had shoveled snow off the rough ice, making a natural rink surrounded by snow covered grass and cattails.  A group of teenage boys was playing pickup hockey while a crowd of familiar faces and neighbors of all ages skated, laughed, visited and orbited with snow shovels, keeping the ice as smooth as it could get.


The pond had a palpable magical feeling to it. The sun was shining and the ice was the best I can remember.  My heart swelled as I considered how many people were getting true joy from being outside, moving their bodies, and communing with fresh cold air.  What really sticks in my mind is how the hockey boys were taking such gentle care of the ice and the experience of the pond as a whole.  They take care of the ice, check to make sure that everyone who wants to play plays, and are extremely careful not to bump into little kids.  And there were a lot of little kids, many of whom were just getting the confidence to slide about on their tiny skates.  These hockey boys are at the pond every day after school and almost all weekend.  They are the unelected stewards of the ice pond.


I am filled with hope for my kids as I watch these teenage boys, and I can imagine my son someday soon saying to his friends, “Meet me at the pond for hockey after school.” And they’ll do so on their own, without supervision, without a grown-up commanding it, and they’ll do it every day because that’s what twelve-year olds do, even in 2018 when video games and net-connected screens are more ubiquitous than we can imagine.  I hope the fresh, cold air will consume them the way it inspired me when I was their age.  As autumn darkens their afternoons earlier and earlier, they will  watch the thermometer, waiting for winter to freeze their pond and enable their special place. IMG_1162

So, what’s better?  Driving to and paying to skate at a near perfect outdoor skating rink with hot chocolate, a fire place, and a zamboni?  Or walking to a pond with a group of friends, sharing the ice with little and big kids, and taking time to shovel a bit to keep the ice as nice as possible?  For me, even though I loved skating in Falmouth, the realness of the pond near my house was precious and priceless.


A Winter Walk: Falmouth Audubon

The contrast in colors between the snow and the shadows upon the smooth surface takes my breath away.  The colors, the crunch of the snow under foot, and the cool air in my lungs cleanse my soul.  Ah winter.  I’m so glad you’re here.

On Thursday I had a meeting at the Falmouth Audubon.  I worked my schedule so I could arrive 30 minutes early to go for a walk in this gorgeous location.  Technically, I only arrived 25 minutes early, but ended up having a 5 minute conversation in the Audubon parking lot at the end of the meeting–so 30 min. of outdoor time–voila!  It meant working later into the evening to make up for the missed work time, but check out these photos.  Totally worth it.

(The above photo was taken on a different winter walk in the Evergreen Woods.)

I’m really loving walking with my new camera.  I thought it would feel funny to have to carry around something much clunkier than my iphone–but it doesn’t bother me at all.  I love trying to best capture these breathtaking sites to share with you.

Where are your favorite places to go for a winter walk?  Do share!


Goal Completed! 357 Days Outside

Yesterday, on the last day of 2012, I successfully completed my goal of going outside every day for at least 30 minutes.  357 days of outdoor walks, camping, sailing, running, sledding, Nordic skiing, gardening, and sometimes just drinking wine on my back porch or eating lunch on the front steps.  When I set this goal I figured I could miss one day a month due to family responsibilities, sickness, travel, or whatever.  To celebrate this accomplishment and to end 2012, I joined the Natural Resource Council of Maine’s Polar Bear Dip and Dash.  First, I ran a 5K with some polar bears and a bunch of other jolly people.  The snow and ice covered trail ran along Back Cove and the East End Beach.  Then I joined some of the runners, and others just arriving, and jumped into the ocean.

I finished the race in 32 minutes which I felt pretty good about because the conditions were lousy and I haven’t been running much.  Though, for me, the real reason to join this event was the dip into the ocean.

I was anxious about running on ice and snow.  I worried that the ocean would be unbearably cold.  I was fearful that I would catch a chill after running 3.1 miles and then standing around for 30ish minutes waiting to jump in the ocean.  But the energy and enthusiasm during the entire event was completely inspiring.  I ran into that water as fast as I could surrounded by hoots, cheers, and the good will of participants and the spectators.  I truly did not feel cold until I got back onto the beach and stood on the frigid sand with a towel wrapped around my torso.  My toes immediately started to burn but I was soon standing on a towel and then seconds after that (thank you Hans Indigo Spencer!) I was putting on the warmest wool socks I own.  I was most impressed with the two young men who went in and dove under three times (in the picture below they’re on either side of my head).  Next year I’ll be even more badass.

(Count the smiles above… it was so freaking fun!)

And there will be a next year, because I cannot imagine a better way to end another year of getting outside than to swim with a bunch of other nature loving crazy happy folks.  In 2013 I will continue my journey and I will do my best to continue to blog about my outings.  This journey so far has been transformative.  I’ve learned so much and I haven’t come close to expressing it all yet.

If you’d like to continue to follow along, consider liking my Facebook page Everyday Outside.  In due time, I’ll figure out other ways to improve this blog and to keep you informed of new postings.

For all of you who’ve been reading Everyday Outside and have told me you’re doing so, thank you for your encouragement, interest, and enthusiasm.  I’m honored that you’re reading and it inspires me to keep writing.  I wish you all wonderful outings in 2013 and hope that you’ll join me in my journey to get outside regularly.  Simply stepping out the door and going for a 30 minute walk every day will improve your life.  It has improved mine and I can honestly say that without challenging myself to go outside every day, and keeping track of days I missed, there would have been many days that I would have not gone out.  My wish for 2013 is that many other people will spend more time outside and experience the benefits of such a simple thing.  That is why you should take the challenge–365 Everyday Outside.  Join me!