I read this book, Home Ice
, in which a hockey writer for Sports Illustrated detailed his passion for his backyard, homemade ice rink. No, it wasn't remedial, and it wasn't just for hockey nuts. It was about how a neighborhood and friends are drawn together by something. In this case, a flooded backyard brought good, hard-working people together, but it could just as well have been a zucchinis-for-apricots exchange or a 4th of July barbecue. Neighborhoods and communities are pulled close by tragedy or activity, the former connecting people on a deep emotional level, the latter just makes you wanna share a beer and laugh.
You might say it was a story about a cliche, as well, though. "When times were simpler we would..." or "Back in my day, we used to be able to..." It could
have been a Readers' Digest Chicken Soup for the Too Lazy to Buy a Decent Book with Real Conflict in It kind-of-story. But there were the hockey bits, and there's nothing Chicken Soupy about hockey. And the "when times were simpler" line of thinking is bullshit. Turning off the TV and saving a couple nights and weekends for ourselves is still achievable. I may not be able to say that in several years, when both kids are scheduled up to their armpits, but right now, we're just not THAT busy.
The book inspired me, and by association, inspired my task-driven husband. Jim is nothing without his jobs. He wakes up every weekend morning itching to put on his dirty work gloves and build, deconstruct, plant or fix something (unless it's in
the house). I usually come downstairs at around 8:30 smacking the nastiness out of my mouth and tying my bathrobe, and he's there perched on the edge of our black leather chair, three cups of thick dark coffee coursing through him, waiting for the starter's gun. His work jeans are pulled up to his bellybutton and his wool sweater is tucked in tight. All he needs is a head-waggle from me, and he's out the door. But winter is hard on a guy like this. He can only arrange so much hay around the chicken pen, he can only shovel so much frozen dog shit. The idea of a homemade ice rink was manna.
So, to sum-up my idle chatter and Jim's in-earnest planning for the last couple weeks:
And it did bring over the neighbors, working and planning and fretting and musing and laughing. It did force us to be at home and talk over dinner and pat ourselves on the back. So it worked. I'm happy to fulfill this cliche. Maybe I can write a book about it and make a bunch of money, too. That'd be killer.(Special thanks to Dave for the photo and for sacrificing his left eye for our first noteworthy rink injury. And for helping. And for the book.)