It is early December and winter is already settling in this year. The combination of snow and Christmas decorations at the sport facility is a shock to the system this morning.
I have not come to terms with the advent of either this year.
As I do the laps of the walking track, on the main ice surface young boys are playing hockey, with one team blanking the other by seven goals. At the end, the teams shake hands, then line up for the announcement of the three stars of the game. Afterwards, the Zamboni clears the ice and two more teams take their places.
Each team member is announced with great fanfare and in the stands, parents use noise makers to salute them. This game has two girls' teams, about the same age as the boys, facing off for three periods of twelve minutes each.
The girls practise for five minutes
then do a group cheer.
There is no body contact in this game; the most serious thing that happens occurs when girls trip over sticks or get caught in another's skates. Many girls are good skaters and have the concepts of their position on the ice and their role.
It is interesting to watch them as they play. In the stands, parents talk about how their girls are improving as the weeks progress.
This is a Canadian moment. It is a country where Saturday nights are sacred for their worship of hockey icons. Watching the National Hockey League games becomes the focus of many social gatherings or quiet nights at home. Backyard rinks are being readied in our neighbourhood over the last few days as the temperature dropped. Road hockey is a way of life the remainder of the year. Canada is a hockey nation in a big way!
Our family has never understood the hockey craze. My husband is not a sports fan and neither am I, though I was as a teenager. Our daughter and her British husband are football fans, or soccer as North Americans call it. That is the extent of our interest in spectator sport. We did not get the gene for interest in hockey.
These parents spend their Saturday morning at the rink, where they use the noise makers and shout occasionally, as they cheer on their girls. Discussions of an up-coming tournament which will take them out of town next weekend, occur between cheers. These hockey parents are dedicated, investing time and money in pursuit of the puck.
Outside the rink, the Christmas decorations reinforce the hockey theme.
You don't get any more Canadian than this.