Monday, January 31, 2011
The gift that keeps giving
When I finally looked up there was a 30 foot floodlight post with chipped brown paint standing tall hovering over me. The sounds of the skating rink were a little different than I remembered growing up even if the little warming house still remained the same. Sure the vending machine changed a bit from a quarter to $.75 with one of those new fangled dollar acceptors connected to it. But the wood benches, puke spackled rubber floor and multi-colored brick interior with a lingering smell only hockey players could enjoy (or tolerate) still made up the hexagon shaped building.
I laid back for several minutes listening. To the wind which brought a sharpness to an otherwise tame Minnesota early evening. To the skaters which I could hear every c-cut and snowplow stop in the ice and could tell if they should be running down to Dave's Sport Shop on the other side of I-94 for the best skate sharping in town. My kids were directly ahead of me but half of a football field length ahead of me on the "practice rink" on which if a hockey stick appeared the husky lady would don her Maple Grove Park and Rec jacket and give a few shouts until the heathens put away their warrior spears made by Reebok instead of Christian Brothers now. The slap of the puck sounded differently as well, the wobbly mis-fires much different from the shots that rattled the back of the make-shift red pipe and fence goals.
My hearing aids have brought new sounds and experiences into my life since dropping a third of a Honda Civic on the Paparella Ear, Head, and Neck Institute in exchange for those noises heard above. Some people stuff a pipe and smoke its contents to feel, hear, and smell different things, I have molded plastic in my ears so I can do the same. The crunch of the snow while extracting my body from the snow bank to join my kids on the pleasure rink and pick one up to hear "go faster daddy!" as I go a little slow than I did as a lanky 130 pound center who spend plenty of time avoiding goons who were, well my size now but probably didn't have the 10 years of bar fly experience in high school.
We would visit the double-sided hockey rink twice last weekend and both times the new music of the place gave me the pause to sit back and let the sounds come in. That and I found out quickly my 36 year old body can't take more than three rushes up and down the opposing red lines without being completely wiped any longer. Even nearly two years after shedding a tear inside my car after receiving this wonderful gift, the present still gives and will continue to do so.