Taking It Personally: The Coming of Winter (PHOTOS)
Along with cold weather, snow and HOCKEY!
The signs of impending winter are upon us. The leaves haven’t turned much and the weather is still warm it is true, but those are not the harbingers I look for.
We picked the last of the apples from our two trees this weekend. It will be the last pie from those trees this year. Meg Muckenhoupt gave me an idea for next year when she said, “Hank, I’ve got two words to say to you.” I was relieved to find out that the words were “cider press.” I immediately checked on that and, while an assembled press is a bit pricey, there are plans for building one which looks like a great winter basement project.
One sure sign that the growing season is over is the legion of small furry critters dashing about the property looking for the food they have gotten used to and now can’t find so they complain constantly. The squirrels, without apples to steal, are now demolishing the pumpkin on the front porch. A week ago, seven apples left on the porch for another pie, disappeared courtesy of the local raccoon who now has returned to raiding neighborhood trash cans and foraging in what remains of the garden.
We have had a couple of cold nights. By “cold” I mean that the streetlight outside our house produces light equal to a very small birthday candle. In the summer, that streetlight is ineffective because of the surrounding foliage. In the winter it is ineffective because compact fluorescents aren’t all that great when it is cold. I don’t really care because I like to look at stars. The CFL in that streetlight is green as all get out, I guess, although it might be even greener to just turn it off.
The leaves on the Norway maple in our front yard turned brown almost overnight and fell off as they do just about every year. No glorious riot of color from that tree. I feel bad because the wind blows them into my neighbor’s yard, so I sweep their driveway now and then by way of apology.
But the surest sign of winter came at 5 a.m. last Saturday.
I knew it was 5 a.m. because I was up, and I was up because it was the first day in a new season of LBYH In-House Hockey!
Some of you are curling your lip already. Hockey. What could be worse? And 5 a.m.? Are you nuts?”
But Saturday it was In-House Hockey for 4 to 10-year-olds. The first-liners are confident and assured of their place in the universe. The second-liners are gaining confidence and are aiming at that day when they will skate on the first line, certain that will happen any day now.
Watching third-liners is like watching a bunch of puppies tumbling over each other as they chase the puck up and down the ice. This is really their league and about all you can say, even after many years of experience, is “Awwwwwwww, that is sooooo cute.”
Fiona who won the Commissioner’s Dream Big Award last year is back, still intent on being a goalie. She probably will, too, just as Lucy did a few years ago. Lucy is now a big kid—a Bantam skater—and still a goalie.
If you are a real New Englander, you already know that hockey is serious business in this part of the country.
I am one of the Commissioners for a youth league of close to 200 players and one of the hardest things I have to do each year is explain to at least one distraught parent recently arrived from LA or Texas that their child who played at the A level in his/her former home is really a C or D level player around here. That shouldn’t lessen the fun, and it doesn’t seem to matter to kids, but it matters to some parents.
Last year, between youth hockey and the LHS varsity games for which I am the public address announcer, I watched around 140 hockey games at Hayden. That is a lot of time to spend in a cold rink, which is why I treasure my Uggs from Michelson's Shoes and my heavy parka from Tricon Sports.
There are compensations, of course. First, youth hockey as played in the Lexington Bedford Youth Hockey In-House League really is about having fun. Moreover, there is always the Snack Bar.
The Harris family manages the snack bar.
Lynne Harris, her husband and her mother run the place while the kids skate. Last year, Lynne introduced the breakfast pizza. Laugh if you wish, but a thin crust pizza with egg white and cheese topping tastes pretty good. Add sausage and you have a gourmet treat. It’s a lot better than Christine Lavin's suggestion of Cold Pizza for Breakfast.
There is more, though, because I know Lynne is about to unveil something that was in beta testing last year. Along with the coffee, without which the place would be a lot less mellow, I am waiting for her special cupcakes in team colors.
Whoa! Now that is something to look forward to … even if it does mean getting up at 5 a.m. for the next four months.