One of the perks of living on a farm is the opportunity to meet others who do just the same. Since we moved to the Fort Steele area, I’ve met dozens of other people who live on rural properties, who share similar ideals, and spend much of their time outdoors.
I’ve met farmers who run 1000 head of cattle. I have neighbours with 15 derelict cars parked in their driveway. I’ve heard ghost stories from Fort Steele. I’ve had the pleasure of touring the Bull River Guest Ranch. I’ve met people who train horses for a living. There’s no shortage of people in this area who, in one way or another, live the farm life.
This past weekend we were invited to a friend’s family’s property to play a game of pick-up hockey on their backyard rink.
Of course E and I jumped at the opportunity to enjoy some time outside in the sunshine, but little did we know how epic this backyard rink would be, or how sore our bodies would be the following day.
Upon arrival of this property, one would never guess that a proper rink was tucked away in the corner. When we finally pulled around the long driveway to the rink, we were speechless. Our friend’s father obviously takes pride in this at-home rink. Not only is the ice surface perfect, but there are proper boards, nets, and even a small change room with a wood stove to warm up your skates. There’s even lights around the edge of the rink and a sound system to get everyone pumped up.
As we unloaded our gear from the truck our friends greeted us excitedly, as did their kids. We all were itching to get on the ice. We decided it’d be best to get a fire going first, or else it might never happen. We got the wood stove fired up, along with the outdoor fire pit next to the rink, and shortly thereafter we were skating.
Now, these families are hockey families, hence the effort that they put into this rink.
I played hockey for many years when I was growing up. I looked up to my older brother, who also played and still plays recreationally. My family was most definitely a hockey family, but I haven’t played a proper game in over 10 years. Needless to say I was a little intimidated at first by the calibre of hockey players ranging from ages 3 to 35, but after about 30 minutes on my skates I was able to keep up with the best of them.
We spent hours on that rink on Sunday. I don’t think I took my skates off for four hours at least, and many others were still skating until dark. We were all gassed at the end of the day, not just from playing hockey but also from laughing, from falling, and from having so much freaking fun. We all took home a few bruises as souvenirs but I will don mine with pride.
As night fell, we sat around the campfire and enjoyed some hot dogs, sharing stories of our past experiences with hockey. How fitting it was that The Tragically Hip serenaded us as we wrapped up a long day. We put our skates and sticks in the back of the truck and said our goodbyes to one another, feeling grateful for a day of good, clean Canadian fun.