Photography · Real LIfe · Winter

To show our simple skill, that is the true beginning of our end

One Ashleigh Brilliant once remarked: “This is serious: some of the things that are supposed to last the rest of my life are already wearing out,” and I, sadly, am discovering just that about my body.

Not one to shrink back from adventure, I have thrown myself into any activities winter and my friends can introduce me to here in Canuckistan. And having grown up in sunny South Africa, enjoying many a summer on the beach or near to the pool, everything about this December is new, exciting and challenging to my middle-aged body.

Back in July I bought myself some second-hand skates in anticipation of being able to play the signature sport of Canuckistan – the sport that every child grows up playing and loving passionately – Hockey. But it wasn’t until the beginning of this month that the temperatures stayed low enough for long enough, and we headed off to the outdoor rink up at Bouchie Lake for the first time.

I was, of course, as good on the ice as a, ummmmmm, what metaphor would best describe it? A fish on skates? But I’m a reasonably quick learner – and I was average in no time. That’s where the quote above comes into the story though: I fell a few times on the ice and then, heading back to the car at the end of the evening, came crashing down something terrible on my hip and left wrist. Both ached for weeks. In fact, almost a month later the wrist is still not back to normal. A nightmare of an afternoon spent at the hospital’s emergency ward seemed to indicate that there was no fracture, fortunately. All the doctor could suggest was to “keep it mobile.” That was like music to my ears. All I heard was, “play more hockey.”

And so I went back for more the following week. This time I fell even harder. Back-pedalling to prevent a sure collision with a Canucki teenager, I performed a feat normally reserved for TV cartoon characters: with skates and arms flailing, I found myself flying upwards and backwards, finally landing flat on my back, very hard. About all I could do was crawl off, gasping for breath through the excruciating pain (almost as much pain as when I hurt myself cliff jumping in Madagascar) and hide in the car nursing my damaged ego. Two weeks later I still fear sneezing and my ribs, chest and left kidney hurt when I bend down to take out the garbage.

But hockey is infectious. I’ve been back every week since my initial mishaps – now wearing knee and shin guards, and hockey shorts which we fondly refer to as “padded panties” – and I believe that I am actually improving. How sad though that all my hockey-skill progress will grind to a halt as I head back to South Africa next week. Although, on second thoughts, perhaps it is best for my aching bones …

(All daytime shots are by Elissa. The rest are by me.)

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