So remember a few weeks ago when I blogged about starting to play “Happy Hockey” and I vowed that I would never mention it again? Did you believe me? I also said I would never, EVER, use Twitter. Well, that’s a whole other story.

But this will definitely be my last blog about hockey because the season is over. Yes, even in Canada it becomes uneconomical to keep the ice in the arena into April.

I had missed a couple of games because of deadlines with the new book, but I did go to the final game. It was nice because a couple of the players also belong to the Grassroots Growers, our local gardening group, and at our garlic-growing workshop they asked me where I’d been. Boy, it’s nice they even noticed! David Field convinced me to come to the last week. He said there’d be awards. I thought I’d qualify for “Most Improved Player” since I hadn’t played for 40 years, so I was pretty sure that was worth something. Maybe I’d qualify for “Mr. Congeniality.” Turns out David made it all up. There were no awards.

I took my camera just to prove to my blog readers that I did actually play hockey and wasn’t making it all up. Here’s our group shot after the game.

Tamworth-Happy-Hockey-2013

I also took the photo to correct something that’s gnawed away at me for 40 years. Back when I was a kid, my hockey team won the cup in the “B” division and we had a group shot taken after the game. It was a black & white photo, since it was the late 60’s. I was in the front row. Everyone else in the front row was upright on his knees (no girls in that league!) I was settled back sitting on my skates and so I ended up looking about 2 feet tall. Now, I’m not a big guy, and I’m sure that lugging all of this firewood has probably caused me to shrink a bit from my 5’8”. But I’m not that small!

So this year I vowed to right that wrong and I made sure to be in the “standing up” row, and I didn’t slouch, regardless of how bagged I was. And the shot turned out all right, so finally, after 40 years I feel like a regular sized guy again. I guess I had body image issues after all. Heck with all the equipment I look like Mark Wahlberg in the movie “The Fighter.” I’ve seen the preview so many times I feel like I’ve seen the movie.

I sent out the photo to the Happy Hockey email list and added this P.S. “and yes, that’s really me on the left in the back row in case you were thinking I’d Photoshop’d Brad Pitt into the picture.” I’m not sure if they’ll let me play next year.

After the game everyone went to the Corner Store for breakfast. It really is a great bunch of people and I had a blast playing this year. We moved to Tamworth 15 years ago. I heard about Happy Hockey, and thought about playing, but I was always too busy. Or the equipment was too expensive. There was always an excuse, which was stupid. This is a great way to blow off some steam and meet some neighbors.

There’s something special about living in a small community and going to town and taking twice as long as you intended because you meet someone in the grocery store, or the hardware store, or on the sidewalk in front of the Post Office. I make a point of saying “Hi” to everyone I pass when I’m in town, and the more people I can say “Hi Bob” to, the better. I use “Bob” as the example because in the photo I think there are about 5 Bobs. If someone on your team has the puck and you can’t identify them quickly, you’re usually safe to say, “Over here Bob.”

It takes a long time to become part of a community. And you have to work at it. But I think it’s really important. I actually just finished the chapter in my book, “The Sensible Prepper” about the value of ‘community.” There is no way to replace the importance of being part of a community in uncertain times, but it takes time to become part of one. And it requires effort. There is never a shortage of groups in any town, small or large, that needs volunteers and people to become active in them. It can seem more difficult in a larger city, but the upside is that there are probably more people that share your interests so it can be easier to link up with a group.

I’ve been active in groups focused on improving the community through economic development, green projects, parades, you name it. Tamworth is a great village to live in because of the people.

If I were living in a city right now and feeling a bit antsy about rising oceans or European bank holidays, I’d be finding a group to join. I’d be learning to quilt, or play softball, or finding a garden plot, or a “Transition Group” and I’d force myself to start going to meetings. And I’d get involved and take on tasks. And the next thing you know, you’ll be in a coffee shop with a bunch of new friends figuring out how to save the world. Wow, that was easy.

In my case it’s even better because I get to wear a bunch of bulky pads that make me feel like Mike Tyson!

OK, no more hockey talk. At least not until next year!