Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Loving Winter In Winnipeg

The younger takes a stab at ringette.

I received the usual ribbing from friends and neighbors who emerged in the new year with a bit of a tan. "Christmas in Winnipeg, eh? Lucky, lucky guy!" Winnipeg winters can be unendurably cold, it's true. But there are aspects to them that I genuinely miss.

The first of these is blinding sunlight. Clear skies, and a plain covered in snow for 40 miles in any direction makes for a very bright exposure. Does me good, that. It actually entices me out of doors, where I enjoy another aspect I don't find in Southern Ontario: outdoor skating rinks.

Winnipeg has dozens of these -- nearly every school has two or three pads on its playground, and most are well maintained. A person with a pair of skates and some flexibility to his day can expect to have the ice to himself, sometimes for hours at a stretch. He can try all the stunts that would embarrass him and endanger others in a crowded indoor arena. F'rinstance: until four years ago, I could never stop on my right side. I'm still some distance away from the right feeling natural, but with a split-second forethought I can certainly nail it.

An empty rink is an open invitation to pick-up. I don't bother with hockey anymore -- I've yet to play with a group of guys that doesn't include one short-tempered meatball who likes to take it into the corners -- but ringette? Anytime!

Ringette is a passing game: no player in possession can make an end-to-end run. It is also a non-contact sport, which is usually observed with special care when the teams are co-ed. Our family would scrimmage for an hour, then return to the house in a sweat -- even when it was -36 C, before wind-chill. I won't speak for my daughters, but I could make that a daily routine for quite a few weeks before getting tired of that.

Not in this part of Ontario, alas. The times and the climate have a-changed, and outdoor rinks are an artifact of the past. Ah, well. Advantage: Winnipeg.


DarkoV said...

Your post talks of things so tempting, namely, the ability to skate on ice and push some round object around wihtout fear of joining Eric in the mumbly-jumbly league. Is Canada truly so far socially advanced that aged male skaters can mosy up and down the ice guiding felt objects without grief from any non-skating males strolling by the rink?
That is truly amazing! Here in Philly-land, a guy skating without delivering blows-of-many-colors is ripe meat for vicious commenting.

This Ringette stuff is sorely tempting in that it would not be sore-inducing. Would all my games have to be away, I think?

Are even benign versions of boarding frowned on? I still have that itch to sweep low and aim shoulder high...

Whisky Prajer said...

The occasional "smudge" occurs without penalty, but I've seen some astonishing calls on genuine non-offenders. The habit is to err on the extreme side of caution. Reffing is a contested art at the best of times, of course. But erring on the side of caution is most welcome when dealing with girls in early adolescence -- and men in mid-life.