Go out­side and play

The Glengarry News - - The Opinion Page - Se­in­feld Friends -- Richard Ma­honey [email protected]­gar­rynews.ca

Over­time, Game 7, Stan­ley Cup fi­nal. You steal the puck at the blue line. You deke out the last de­fence­man. You are in all alone. You bear down on the goalie. The crowd is go­ing wild. But you hear noth­ing, but the pound­ing of your heart. You un­leash the best, hard­est, most ac­cu­rate wrist shot ever fired in the his­tory of the sport. The puck flies dart-like to the up­per left cor­ner of the net. The goalie des­per­ately shoots out his glove. The puck... Well, you know how it ends, right? Ev­ery­one who has ever played hockey, in an arena, on a pond, in a street or a park­ing lot, has dreamt of that mo­ment of ex­quis­ite glory. We can imag­ine the post-game in­ter­views, the adu­la­tion, the pa­rades, the en­dorse­ments, the bil­lion-dol­lar con­tract ex­ten­sions.

Sure, we know that only a minis­cule frac­tion of the best play­ers in the world will ever get to play in the NHL, let alone com­pete in a game 7 of a Cup fi­nal and revel in such OT ec­stasy.

But that re­al­ity can­not stop mor­tals from dream­ing.

And there is no bet­ter place to dream than an out­door rink.

In our Fe­bru­ary 10 edi­tion, we pub­lished a photo of a pick-up game at the Bainsville ice sur­face and pho­tos of the Dun­ve­gan win­ter car­ni­val, where a rink was a cen­tral el­e­ment of the fes­tiv­i­ties.

Those im­ages brought back warm and fuzzy mem­o­ries for many read­ers, who as chil­dren spent Win­ter days skat­ing on rinks, ponds, or frozen fields.

Some may not be able to re­late to some of the mod­ern con­ve­niences fea­tured at Bainsville’s rink, which is equipped with spiffy equip­ment, in­clud­ing a me­chan­i­cal plow.

Now, back in the day, a hands-on ap­proach was taken to main­te­nance. Play­ers were ex­pected to clear snow them­selves, un­der the “if you don’t shovel, you don’t play” rule. Shov­el­ling was a good way to stretch and warm up the mus­cles be­fore sides were picked and the puck was dropped.

Young peo­ple rou­tinely roll their eyes when older folks be­come misty-eyed as they de­scribe an era when the air was fresher, forests were thicker and wa­ter was cleaner. It was a time when young­sters were ex­pected to “make their own fun,” and they played out­doors, from dawn to dusk. Shinny games were in­ter­rupted only when the puck got lost in a snow­bank or a dog stole it. This was child’s play. Parental guid­ance was min­i­mal. A limb would have to be frac­tured or skin would have to be bro­ken be­fore any­one would even con­sider seek­ing the in­ter­ven­tion of an adult.

Games would end when a par­ent called the play­ers home for sup­per, or Mother Na­ture took over and turned the ice into slush.

Ev­ery­thing old is new again. Wit­ness the pop­u­lar­ity of the NHL’s Win­ter Clas­sics and Sta­dium Se­ries, where the set­ting is ev­ery­thing and the ac­tual con­test is an af­ter­thought.

The “feel” of an ex­te­rior rink is spe­cial. But, with­out the as­sis­tance of me­chan­i­cal re­frig­er­a­tion, it will be­come in­creas­ingly dif­fi­cult for peo­ple to en­joy this unique mi­lieu.

Yes, we’re talk­ing about cli­mate change, again.

Our favourite pas­time may soon be­come an in­door-only sport be­cause of global warm­ing, stud­ies have in­di­cated.

This Win­ter has ex­em­pli­fied the top­sy­turvy weather con­di­tions that we have grown ac­cus­tomed to in re­cent years. A swing of 30 de­grees has be­come the norm. We’re golf­ing at Christ­mas and freez­ing on Valen­tine’s Day.

The fu­ture of out­door rinks rests on the ded­i­ca­tion of vol­un­teers and the co­op­er­a­tion of Mother Na­ture.

Un­for­tu­nately, if our planet con­tin­ues to get warmer, the only place many peo­ple will see out­door rinks is in beer com­mer­cials.

The fact that ad strate­gists and NHL mar­keters be­lieve nat­u­ral ice sur­faces trig­ger pos­i­tive re­sponses from con­sumers un­der­line a pin­ing for the past. Nos­tal­gia sells. For ex­am­ple, look at the real-life in­car­na­tions of the make-be­lieve restau­rants that were back­drops for the and TV se­ries. Who would not want to talk about noth­ing in the a booth where Jerry and his pals hung out?

An­other im­age in our Fe­bru­ary 10 edi­tion stirred pos­i­tive re­sponses from read­ers. The pic­ture was that of Abbey MacKin­non, and her four-year-old daugh­ter, Keaton, from Kirk Hill, hav­ing the time of their lives as they slid down a slope at the Dun­ve­gan car­ni­val.

As they say, slid­ing has its ups and downs. But is there any bet­ter way to em­brace our long­est sea­son? It is low-tech, en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly, re­quires no bat­ter­ies. Grav­ity does most of the work.

For­tu­nately, we are sur­rounded by op­por­tu­ni­ties to get out­doors and en­joy the sim­ple plea­sures of life.

Mother Na­ture can drive you crazy with her id­iosyn­cra­cies.

But on a good day, she can pro­vide us with a vast play­ground where we can have fun, take in the scenery, breathe in cool, crisp air and/or day­dream about roof­ing a Cup win­ner.

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