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.
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.
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.
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.
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.