Having fun still the name of the game

Reprinted from The Packet, January 21, 2016
by Lester Green


Gooseberry Cove Pond was a sight from our childhood on Saturday afternoon as the car rolled slowly downhill by the Anglican Church.

 Hockey 1  Hockey 2  Hockey 3

The sound of kids laughing, pucks hitting hockey sticks, and the swishing sounds of skates cutting the ice could be heard as we stopped the car to take some photos and reflect.The scene was reminiscence of our childhood; times when crowds would gather on local ponds on a winter afternoon and lace up their skates.The excitement was uncontrollable as young skaters stepped on the ice.Different ages would gather on sections of the pond and quickly organize themselves into different teams. The game would start and play would be continuous.There were no referees, no penalties and rarely was the score kept. It was only at sunset did people stop playing and proceed to the shoreline to remove their skates.

Their hands would be cold and only when attempting to remove the skates did the realization of nearly frozen fingers become a reality. The players would scatter in different directions as they made their way home; some with their skates still on because the laces were frozen.

At home, the skaters received help in removing their skates or boots and exposed their nearly-frozen feet. They were treated to a hot bowl of soup and tea. That night as they slept there were dreams of tomorrow and scoring in the next hockey game on the pond.

On Saturday, Gooseberry Cove pond was alive with skaters. Two rinks, cleared with the use of an all terrain vehicle, exposed the perfect sheet of ice. Gone were the days that kids would have spent hours pushing wooden ploughs and clearing the ice for the big game on Saturday afternoons.

Social media was used to communicate the message that a game of hockey was to take place on the pond on Saturday afternoon. In the past, word of the game would be spread verbally and players would go to school with their equipment.

The Gooseberry Cove boys, along with friends, gathered and laced up their skates. The goalies wore the most equipment. Two teams were selected with a few spares to replace tired players on the ice. Let the game begin.

The two games were based on age. The older individuals with the larger rink and goalie nets skated back and forth attempting to score on the goalies. This wasn’t Hockey Night in Canada but to the participants it was pure fun, the essence of Canadas national sport. It was a way of maintaining fitness while enjoying the company of other’s.

The other game was being played by younger kids. Their numbers were lower due to the declining population in rural Newfoundland but their enthusiasm was immense.

Unlike the other rink, one net was wooden and two boots formed the opposite net. The play was just as intense as individual players received the puck and skated towards the opponents’ net. They shoot, they score. The goalies, in this case being their moms, may have allowed a few goals to make the kids feel good about scoring.

A grandparent dropped by to pick up her grandchild but was met with the words, “Not yet Nan, come back in a little while.”

She turned to me and whispered, “His grandfather said he would be in here until dark.”

The game continued until darkness when players called the game off and went to the shoreline to remove their skates.

Today the air was cold and players chatted about times when they were kids and the times spent on this pond.

Some related stories of sitting in their seats with equipment and skates by their desk, looking at the clock, counting down the minutes and hearing the sound of the bell. There would be a rush of kids from the door of Gooseberry Cove Elementary school, crossing the road and lacing up the skates. The pond would be filled with the sounds of skaters laughing, shouting, and having fun.

We had found what we were looking for and spent time reflecting on our childhood.

My wife had laced up her skates and wanted to stay for awhile. I returned later and reminded her it was time to go.

She responded by saying,