I went to a hockey game last night. The London Knights (ages 16-20) were playing Niagara. I didn’t handle it very well. The announcer regularly yelled out “Make Some Noise”, accompanied by flashing red lights. A noise meter calculated the crowd’s response. Sigh. I just didn’t want to. Then there were the fights. One time, a London player slugged a Niagara player so that he dropped to one knee. Some unnecessary portion of the fan base squealed with delight. I just didn’t want to. And I shouldn’t omit the work of the referees. The fellow beside me favoured section 113 with many calls to arms, such as “Hey, ref! You suck.” I truly didn’t want to join in.
I guess I’m a queer duck. What I most enjoyed during the evening was singing “O Canada”, watching some sublime passing plays by the Knights, and walking through the concourse between periods, silently sending “I wish you well” messages to the people I saw.
As for the game, my zip was zapped. Other times, I would stand up and cheer when the Knights scored. Not last night. And that could have been me dancing in the aisle during a stoppage in play. Another evening, that is. I just need quiet now, as I deal with Jody’s death.
And the quiet was today. I went for a walk on the classic old golf course that’s around the corner from me. It’s snowed a lot lately but I didn’t think that would be any big deal. I was wearing my heavy boots. I wanted to find my way to the back holes, the ones with tree-lined fairways far from the road.
I discovered that the snow was shin deep, and sometimes to my knees. But amid all that I was surrounded by silence. An occasional crow cawed. The seagulls, however, flew over my head with nary a peep. Yes please. I talked to Jody when I stopped making footprints in the snow. I stood and cried for my dear wife. I sang her “Annie’s Song” and I almost made it all the way through.
The crunching continued and I started to poop out. Looking through my sunglasses, I realized that I didn’t have very good depth perception out there. If the drift ahead of me was climbing to the right, I couldn’t tell, and then suddenly I was knee deep in fatigue. The seeing was complicated by my little friends the floaters, who sure move around my field of vision a lot. And as I pulled my feet out of holes, I started worrying that if I fell down I might not be able to get up again.
As I rounded one corner on a fairway at the back of the course, I looked way ahead and saw a human being, sort of. Actually it was a snowman. It became a talisman for me … Get to the snowman. And I did, minutes later, and quite heavy of foot. I said hi and shook his little stick hand. He was the only one around, and I was pretty sure he didn’t think I was crazy. It was comforting to chat for a few minutes. Then we said goodbye to each other and I plodded onward.
A long hill, complete with a few sections that touched my knees, had me thinking about mortality. I had to stop every twenty steps or so to get my breath. It reminded me of mountaineering movies I’ve seen where the climbers were making such slow and painful progress at high altitudes. The St. Thomas Golf and Country Club is not exactly Everest, but I could relate.
I was exhausted, and Jody was there to help. “You’re doing great, Bruce. I’m proud of you.” Thank you, my wife. I plotted a route where I wouldn’t lose elevation as I aimed for the clubhouse parking lot. Slow, slow, slow. And then I saw some angels – footprints in the deep snow. When I got to them, I noticed that the person’s boot size was pretty close to mine. Yay. And so I stumbled from hole to hole, thanking my newfound and currently absent friend for his or her generosity.
I made it. Solid asphalt. The winding road took me to the course entrance gate and back to civilization. Thank you, Jodiette. Thank you, the silence. Thank you, winter wonderland. You’re where I need to be.