Josh called me up to see if I still wanted to play pond hockey and I told him that I did, but that I couldn’t find my skates, that my stick needed to be taped, and that I needed half an hour to shower and get my act together.
Skating is not like riding a bike. Especially since riding a bike doesn’t stress the ankle I permanently ruined in 2007. Skating is almost entirely about stressing your ankles when you haven’t done it for a while; but I surprised myself and got the hang of it after twenty minutes or so, and Josh and Matt and I skated the mile-or-so length of Longham’s Pond, playing keep-away with Josh’s dog Flint. Flint: mangy destroyer of ice hockey pucks, protective mutt, climber of mountains and catcher of frisbees–I salute you.
We made our way back down to where the ice was smoothest to play two-on-one hockey. Whoever was tasked with defense had Flint on his team, since Flint, as alluded to, really, really, really wanted the puck, and was pretty damned good at getting it. An additional perk of having Flint on your team: nobody on offense wanted to skate too close to him, lest we were to chop off his feet with our ice skates. Flint was an asset, is what I’m saying. It was nice to have him while I was on defense, anyway.
A puck went off the ice and onto the rocks and I made the mistake of pursuing it. When I stopped by the frozen shoreline and reached my stick out to shuffle it back onto the pond, the ice broke and I went through it. I scrambled out of the water and onto the shore. Lesson learned: either show the ice the respect it deserves, or don’t play pond hockey.
We stopped playing pond hockey.
There was some sort of Snowpocalypse and it snowed a whole bunch in Boston and so Josh, Pat, and I went snowshoeing in the woods. We were accompanied by Pat’s dog, Maya. Like all dogs, Maya is somewhat stupid, and like all young dogs, Maya has boundless energy. So despite the fact that there were two feet of snow on the ground, and that she literally had to hop–like a bunny–in order to move at all, Maya led the way for the first half of our hike. Hop, hop, hop, in and out of drifts, paths, frozen tundra marshes. Hop, hop, hop. Watching her pee was the funniest part, and watching her try to warm up her paws by licking the ice off of them was the second funniest.
We climbed up obscenely steep hills and ran back down them. We all fell a number of times. Josh, in particular, took two rather cinematic falls when his snowshoes accidentally caught roots hidden beneath the snow: whoop! face-first, directly into the ground, then getting back to his feet sporting a shit-eating grin. Falling really doesn’t hurt in two feet of snow. Nothing does. Not even your feelings.
Maya was tired of hopping by the end and she walked in our path, and when we got back to the parking lot a couple of college kids were vainly trying to get their two-wheel-drive Mazda out of a snowed-in parking spot. We pushed them out. Note to non-New Englanders, or to no one who has ever driven in inclement weather conditions: spinning your wheels only gets you stuck-er. And you should probably carry a shovel in your car.
When the sun goes down in the winter, I fool myself into thinking the day is over. But the day isn’t over. It’s simply changed its clothes. The best time to go for a walk is when the sun’s down, anyway–when the sun is down and it’s snowing, to be more specific. A gentle Arctic hush unfolds over the region. People stay inside in their snuggies and blankets, cozied up in front of fireplaces, drinking cocoa and watching It’s A Wonderful Life. You can be truly, magnificently alone in a New England snowstorm.
I would pay for it, if it weren’t already free.