CM . . .
. Volume XIII Number 5 . . . .October 27, 2006
These days, that "first day of hockey" is more likely to occur in August at a hockey camp. Kids start playing long before freeze-up and keep at it well after spring thaw. Frozen lakes and sloughs and back yard rinks have given way to community club ice where carefully selected teams and tightly scheduled practices and games are the order of the day. The Hockey Tree, though set in the present, harks back to an earlier time when the game was played with less supervision and more spontaneity.
Out on the lake, Owen's sister makes a slap shot and loses their only puck down an ice-fishing hole. It could mean the end of the game, but Dad knows just what to do. Glancing at the poplar-ringed lake, he leads the children on a search for the perfect "hockey tree". When Owen spots the right kind of tree - newly dead and with a trunk as big around as a puck - his father whips out his saw and produces first one, then several "prairie pucks" Will the wooden pucks work? Owen is doubtful, but after Dad immerses them in the icy water of the fishing hole, a couple of minutes in the bone-chilling Saskatchewan air freezes them hard. With pucks a-plenty, the game can and does continue with eager youngsters arriving throughout the afternoon to play shinny with Owen's family on Humboldt Lake.
A retired teacher-librarian, Valerie Nielsen lives in St. Norbert, MB.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.