Friday, December 30, 2011

Kane Learns To Skate

Today, a little Goderich boy named Kane had ice skates strapped to the bottoms of his tiny feet for the very first time.  On this lazy afternoon he was attempting to propel himself forward like millions of other Canadians have done for more than 100 years.  As he was prepared for the event, sitting with his family in the hardwood bleachers of the arena, he was poised to join the sacred, almost universal fraternity of Canadian skaters.  

This precious historic moment was safely nestled in the glowing period that lolls between the two towering winter holidays, of Christmas and New Years.   A golden opportunity had opened up in the life of this preschooler.  It consisted of a fortuitous convergence of opportunity, motivation, and timing.  Some of which belonged to him and yet much more belonged to the inevitable force and momentum of the Canadian psyche.

The critical elements also included, besides available ice, competent coaches and trainers for this operation to succeed.  This was fulfilled quite nicely by the attentive encouragement and support of his parents and the appearance of a bonus Uncle, as added backup, should the coaching breakdown in any way.   The most important ingredient in all of this was of course a pair of brand new skates.  Provided no doubt by the recent visit of Santa, who had either brought skates fresh from the North Pole or the local Canadian tire store.

Kane, to his credit, had already clearly mastered all the standard problems associated with humans primary mode of locomotion, namely walking.  Was he ready to adventure forward into the more challenging world of skating was another matter.  I never had much of a discussion with his folks, but my guess was that they had simply decided that today was the appropriate moment to test the waters, or rather the ice.  Regardless, this day, Wednesday December 29th had been anointed as the proud moment when Kane, regardless of the outcome, was going to stride forward in his life and officially take part in the great Canadian past time, skating.

There are a little over 34 million of us stretched across this vast country.  The number of indoor rinks has been calculated to be roughly around 2500, depending upon which census you look at, or believe.  When you factor in as well the countless frozen ponds and lakes that are created, when the heel of the frosty winter boot strikes down hard upon our 10 provinces.   The opportunities to strap on sharp steel onto your feet and fly across expanses of frozen water in this country of ours is tremendous.
Skating in 1884 Montreal

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Lights: Beyond the Glow

My Greek neighbors live in a sturdy red house directly across the street from me.  They are practical folk who have lived in this neighborhood a lot longer than I have.  We have never talked much, but I have noticed over the years in a smattering of brief conversations,  that their accent is still pretty strong, despite no doubt many years in America and many years in their tidy red house.  

The neighborhood has no doubt changed a whole lot since they first moved here.  At one time the street probably had lots of other Greek families, but now just a few grudging holdouts further up the block.  The street now is a spicy blend of  humanity.  Next door to them is a family from Bangladesh, across a family from Guyana, and the diverse ingredients of the neighborhood soup just goes on and on.  The little world that is 160 st has changed a lot even in the time that I have been there.  Because they are such rock solid people I really no longer take much notice of them.  In the winter they scoot inside quickly like everybody else on chilly days. 

 When summer is hot they will sit out front of the house for long lazy hours in aluminum folding chairs, right into the wee late night hours.  I have never noticed an air conditioner and just assume that if they never had one in Greece where it really gets hot,  then why should they have one here then.   Their only glancing nod to luxury, as far as I can tell, is a big comfortable Chrysler that always gets tucked away in the garage at night. Just to be absolutely safe.