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True Winter Tales: Today's pick

Kid in a Candy Store by Ronald Kurki

Our "Over 50 Hockey Team" begins playing on Sunday night and I heard that there was adult skating at the arena this afternoon.  Thinking that I should get a jump on some of those younger guys as I am already collecting a couple of pensions I decided to go out and see if my blades still had an edge on each side.  Each year now, as I grow older, it takes a little longer to gain control of at least one of those edges so that my butt does not become one with the ice.  A little practice never hurt anyone, so they say.

I grab my skates, head down to the arena, and proceed to pay my $3.20 for an hour of skating.  The young lady takes my money and informs me that I am the only one who has shown up to skate.  

Now if you are a young and even an old hockey player this news will put a smile on your face, a hop in your step, and excitement in your demeanour.  Fresh ice and all to yourself.  Do you know how many times this happens in a hockey lifetime?  As a youngster you would quickly put on your equipment, race out the dressing room door, and wait anxiously at the boards for the Zamboni to leave the ice.  It is like a skier dreaming of first tracks on a powder day.  You want to make, all by yourself, those initial strides and crossovers cutting into that fresh sheet of ice. 

Oh, how you envied those NHL players and the fresh ice they skated on every period.  As a kid, I made my own backyard rinks and skated on nearby lakes and ponds.  The snow would build up from the blades of many kids cutting and shaving the ice with Mother Nature playing her part.  The ice was seldom fresh or new and always overcrowded.

Now, I asked the young receptionist whether or not a stick and puck would be welcome as there were no other skaters.  She told me to go for it.  I rushed home, which is close by, grabbed my stick and some pucks, back to the arena, quickly laced up the blades, and hit that ice with abandon.

The rink attendant seeing my enjoyment of the situation put out a net.  For the next hour I skated and I stick-handled and I shot my pucks.  I scored goals like Gretzky, I skated like Orr, I passed like Howe, and I smiled like a kid in a candy store.

Life has its rewards.  They can be simple.  They can be found in the most unexpected places.  They can surprise.  You just have to take advantage of them and enjoy the moment.  I can hardly wait until our old guys' first game on Sunday in which I will be first out of the dressing room and first over the boards to take those first laps on fresh ice.

Ronald Kurki is from Garibaldi Highlands, BC

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