I slip outside into the early evening atmosphere, quickly heading to my truck before the cold catches me. The drive into town is short. I admire the blanket like snow as my brother drives. I haven’t been home for awhile and I felt a bit off. Before I know it, the truck come to a rearing stop and I look up to see the rink. Despite the fact that I know the old rink will be cold and the ice will be rough, I jump out of the truck and start into the rink. The front door slams behind us and it is suddenly pitch black. My brother, sister and I stumble around in the dark looking for the switch. “found it” I hear my sister say and soundly the light rushes to fill the lobby.
I grab my skates and force my foot in. As I begin to clench my hands around the worn blue laces and pull them tight I glance out at the ice surface observing the Canada and Saskatchewan flags beginning to light up at the far end of the old barn. Man am I ever glad to be home. I am finally ready to hit the ice. As I step on the ice, I feel a sense peacefulness. “TING” my brother shoots the puck and it deflects off the crossbar, bringing me back to the moment. I take a few hard strides and then coast around the outer of the rink, feeling a cool breeze on my face. The breeze is refreshing. While skating I find a puck behind the net. I begin to toy around with the puck. Lightly I push it away and pull it back. I skate around carelessly, avoiding collisions with my siblings.
I look up to notice other local kids slowly piling into the rink. This sight brings my inner buzz alive. Soon enough the ice is crawling with local hockey lovers just like myself. It’s kids of all ages some just beginning to learn and some who already know, they all have one thing in common, a passion for the sport! A close friend of mine suggests we start a game of shiny, her and I drop our sticks in the middle to make teams. The word “shinny” spreads like wildfire and soon enough everyone’s stick is gathered. I began to make teams, tossing the sticks one at a time to either side creating an anonymous team. We agree that we will play post and first one to 5 wins then we remake teams.
We begin to play. The game is friendly yet competitive. I take my turn on the ice skating, passing, shooting and missing, which is shortly followed by a much-needed break on the bench. I enjoy taking in the view kids young and old all playing together while enjoying each other’s company. Don’t get me wrong it is competitive but very enjoyable. After what seemed like no more than 30 minutes everyone slowly recruits back to the lobby to warm our frosted checks. Slowly we come to the realization that we have skated the night away, and it is time to part our ways. I finally felt back at home.
I slowly pack my skates and gloves away. Then I lazily head for the warm truck to head home. I jump into the truck and sink into the warm leather seat. I can’t help but reminisce through the night. A night of shinny in a cold small-town barn like rink full of young locals is what makes me excited to be Canadian. Home for me is my small-town close nit community. I am grateful to be Canadian.