Thursday, April 19, 2012

Saw Her Standing On Her Front Lawn.

The first year I lived in Canada I lived half a block away from a park. When winter finally arrived the guys from the local council set up some boards and flooded the whole park, turning it into an ice rink. I bought some skates and a stick and took it upon myself to learn how to play ice hockey. It was pretty rad. Every evening folks would just all congregate at the rink, and skate around aimlessly for a bit. Then someone would throw their stick in the middle of the rink, someone else would do likewise, and all of a sudden there'd be a big pile in the middle. Someone else would go up to these sticks, close their eyes, then throw them one at a time up either end of the rink. That's how the teams were decided. Everyone would be out there, old guys and little kids, girls and guys, and everyone was treated carefully and with respect. Park hockey - or "shinny", as it's colloquially known - is generally non-contact, and lifting the puck is against the rules or frowned upon. Hockey has that reputation for being all violent and thuggish, but I never saw any of that. I just saw folks playing together, as a community, in a local park under the evening sky.

I had forty minutes on the bike to do tonight. I'm staying at Nath's house for a little bit, and he's on Brunswick Road, so I figured I'd just roll down to Harrison St and do a few laps. I forgot that there was training on, of course, but it didn't matter. Cam was on the motorbike and folks were following him. Every five or so laps he'd raise the pace by five ks an hour. I looked at the demographic behind the bike and it was the same as the variety of people who'd turn up to play shinny in the park - kids, dads, mums, girls and guys. Those who couldn't hold the pace took a couple of laps out, then jumped back on. Those who needed to stop and have a drink stopped and had a drink. After the first session Cam stopped the bike and everyone rolled around for a bit. He put on a bigger, warmer jacket, then jumped back on.

I rolled around above the blue and watch the riders joining in, then pulling out. A couple of guys were pretty serious, and were holding on the whole time, but mostly folks were taking it pretty easy. Everyone was real respectful of the kids, and never bitched or moaned when someone dropped the wheel.

It was night and the air was getting cold. The stars were out, even with the track lights on, and when the motorbike stopped you could hear the Merri Creek nearby. Track racing sometimes has a reputation for being thuggish, elitist and full of jerks, but I never saw any of that. I just saw folks playing together, as a community, in a local park under the evening sky.

If you're interested in joining in, check out here for updates.


SteveZero said...

Great post. I'm sorry I missed it.

Gink_04 said...

perfect post,

i must of missed you by a little bit i swung by just after 9 as Cam was throwing on 5 layers of clothes to drive that little bike back to Anglesea!
He drove it all the way out and then back just so people could have a training session instead of canceling.

Its an amazing little community we have.

nexus said...

I should come down for a spin cos that sounds nice.
I never got play shinny. I only ever played competition ice hockey, where it's full of elitist, jerks and thugs.