When I was a kid in Northern Ontario, Saturdays in February were pretty predictable.  In fact, most daylight hours in February were pretty predictable.  There was a beaver pond about 10 minutes walk through the bush.  It usually froze up in late November or early December and for the next three months was the source of our entertainment and fantasy.  We were loose with skates and hockey sticks.  When I say “we” I mean me, my younger brother and the 5 kids that were part of the French Canadian family that lived about a half mile away.   The league may have had potential of 7 players at any one time but truth is–it only had room for two teams.  At any given time if you had an odd number of players present you had the makings of two teams for that match.  Girls were good.  I had two sisters who periodically showed up but they wore figure skates and really couldn’t be counted on to do more than hold a shovel and pretend to be a goalie.

It wasn’t sophisticated hockey.  The nets were two boots placed a few feet apart.  Goalies were optional though it was expected that if you could, you would try and stop the puck from going into your own goal.  Body contact was not allowed and the accidental collisions were not appreciated either.  No slap shots.  No raising the puck.  Passing the puck to an open team mate in theory was a good thing but it rarely happened.  It was “shinny”.   Every man for himself.

If you were carrying the puck you were Guy Lafleur, or maybe Bobby Hull.  If you were trying to stop the puck (playing defense) you were Bobby Orr and when you captured the puck you immediately turned it up the ice just like Bobby would.  And when you scored after the rush you always announced your own goal as would the timekeeper at the Maple Leaf Gardens—“goal scored by number 4  Bobby Orr, assists to number 7 Phil Esposito, and to number 21 Wayne Cashman.  Time of the goal…”.

The game started after lunch and usually finished around 4:30 or 5 pm when daylight and energy waned almost simultaneously.  Then it was time to pull off the skates, shove your feet into frozen boots and trudge home feeling like you were a day closer to your NHL debut.  That was Saturdays.

Then we all grew up and suddenly Saturdays were for something else.

But last week I got the above picture from a friend who had visited family and friends in Northern BC.  He emailed me on the Monday to say “guess what I did on the weekend?”   When I opened the photo attachment it didn’t have to be explained.  I understood it perfectly.  It was Saturday in February…

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