November and Hockey Night in Canada

November and Hockey Night in Canada

NOTE: before we get to my blog, I feel the need to comment on the disastrous results of the flooding in the Lower Mainland.

I wrote this blog in early November while thinking about my upcoming birthday on November 17th. I have extraordinarily fond and fuzzy warm feelings for this time of year, and I wanted to share those memories with you. Unfortunately, since first writing my blog, there have been recent catastrophic events in regard to the unprecedented heavy rains we have experienced locally. Therefore, I ask that while reading this blog, you keep in mind that my thoughts expressed here are unrelated to the disastrous flooding. My heart goes out to the many people, farms, businesses, and animals that have been affected.

November is my favourite month of the year. It indicates the end of Autumn and the prelude to winter. The 11th month of every year brings late sunrises to the morning and early gloominess to the evening.

Some people get the blues and find November to be dismal and gloomy. Yet, I feel cocoon-like, hopeful, safe, and content. If a social gathering is cancelled due to inclement weather, I am relieved, as in, ‘Good, I get to stay home!’

Wherever we live, we choose to either struggle or breeze through whatever the seasons have to offer. Sometimes we are reluctant and find ourselves persevering. But eventually, we get a handle on it and hold our own when it comes to external conditions, especially in November. We often reason it out,  thinking ‘Time passes so quickly, and a new calendar year is just around the corner.’ Thus, we can sum up how life will again bring forth environmental awakenings— budding trees, blooming flowers, clearer skies—and if we can just get through the cold, dark months of November, December, January, and February, we will be okay.

My theory is to accept my surroundings, forge through the atmospheric conditions, dress for the weather, and nestle into the inevitable, sometimes clobbering of winter.

However…

In life, many people depend on rain for their livelihood, and much more. Although rain can cause happiness for some, there are also times when this phenomenon can cause distress to others. I want to acknowledge that some people suffer from seasonal depression, also known as (SAD) Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is a type of depression related to changes in the seasons. For most people with SAD, their symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping their energy and making them feel moody, or unfortunately, even worse, as each situation is unique and different for everyone. More personally, my mother displayed shifts in her moods, and some thought it was due to the weather.

Alternatively…

When winter is looming, you may consider yourself a snowbird, jetting off to another country where the harsh snow or rain are not a concern. Or perhaps where you live, the climate is somewhat seasonless, and you perpetually wake up to bright, warm sunshine coming through your window, or an eye-popping sunset that offers not warmth, but glorious eye feasting colours in the night sky.

The weather is different where I live…

Vancouver, British Columbia, especially in November, has the most rainfall of any other province in Canada. Residents here in this coastal city experience rain and dampness that comes in all forms, from a light mist and mild drizzle to gentle sprinkles, or some days a burst of heavy showers that evolve into a downpour of cold, sideways-blowing rain. I recently heard someone describe the highways and byways as atmospheric rivers that pop up throughout the lower mainland and all over British Columbia.

More recently here in the Lower Mainland, we have experienced first-hand how disastrous a menacing tirade of unceasing water can be. My condolences and prayers to those who are struggling with extreme loss and hardship. My praise also for the heroes who are stepping up to the plate, offering their time and effort to ease the severe circumstances of many.

On a lighter note…

On many occasions, the wind turns umbrellas inside out, and blows hoods and hats from our heads. Puddles splash up on our pantlegs when cars drive by, and soggy wet leaves disintegrate into nothing from the smashing down of our footsteps as we rush about looking for coverage.

In Vancouver, Gore-Tex can be worn as business casual. Umbrellas are found propped in hallways, on coat racks, scattered in the backseat of our cars, and jammed into various bags, ready to use at a moment’s notice.

Gumboots sit by the door, and reflective wear, headlamps, and safety vests are nearby and highly recommended.

A popular local joke is that instead of getting sun-tanned, Vancouverites rust!

Here on the coast, we love to say things like…

It is raining cats and dogs out there.

Nobody knows how to drive in the rain.

The roads are the slickest in the first half-hour.

The plants are going to love this.

I sleep better when it’s raining.

This weather makes me want to stay at home and curl up with a good book.

More notably, our four-legged friends often loathe the rain—specifically my Chihuahua, Steven. He digs his heels in and refuses to go outside when the weather is anything but dry. He would much rather stay in bed!

I have always rooted for the underdog. So, could that be why I like the most disliked month of the year? Or perhaps the reason is this…

Hockey Night in Canada

Hockey Night in Canada is primarily associated with its Saturday-night NHL broadcasts that began in 1931, first on the radio, and then on television in 1952. In 1970-71, the Vancouver Canucks joined the NHL, therefore, growing up in North Vancouver, you can only imagine the excitement in our home on Saturday nights, especially when our home team, the Canucks, were playing.

Rainy days and nights always remind me of hockey games on television.

I can still hear the announcer’s voice, although, ironically, I was not wrapped up in the game like my family was. But the sound of the commentator’s voice brings back fond memories of my family oohing and awing, cheering and yelling at the television during every game.

My older sister was missing from the family dynamics around Hockey Night in Canada because she chose to be out riding horses. If the TV was not available for her western shows, then undeniably, hockey was not my sister’s cup of tea.

I was the little sister, so I had no choice.

Announcer comments 101

He shoots. He scores!

Coast to coast, like butter on toast.

He’s threading the needle, or nice thread.

If that post hadn’t been there, that would have been a goal.

We’re going to take them one game at a time.

If you can’t beat them in the alley, you can’t beat them on the ice.

Win the fight and lose the game.

The goalposts are a part of the goalie’s equipment.

When you put the puck on the net, good things happen.

That was a goal-scorer’s goal.

We’ve got to score those dirty goals.

We need to get more traffic in front of the net.

We need to give 110 percent.

They are a lunch pail crew.

We really didn’t give the goaltender any support.

Will you look at that Spinarama!

The fourth win is the hardest to get.

Our goalie bailed us out.

And of course, the excitement mounted when the popular term “the gloves are off!” was stated in the most emphatic way.

The Bottle Rocket was rare, but it was the most fun for me. This is a term that refers to when a goal breaks the goalie’s water bottle. There were many instant replays when this occurred, and my father always called me over to sit on his lap and watch it all in slow motion.

Hockey lingo is a language of its own, with phrases and terminology that only a hockey player or a faithful fan would understand.

Many of us grew up with favoured commentators such as Jim Hughson, Chris Cuthbert, Rick Jeanerette, Ron Maclean, and Mike “Doc” Emrick. Of course, all of them are popular and cherished in their own right, but to some people like me, just the sound of their voices was (and still is) comforting.

For me, the rain, comfort food, and staying indoors were the gateway to Hockey Night in Canada.

My dad and grandpa

Visualize this…

Hard-hitting rain pelting the windowpanes and darkness terminating outside play by 4:30 p.m. Steamed up windows from my mother’s savoury meals.

One can still taste the hearty, delectable meals such as roast beef, root vegetables, and creamy mashed potatoes with gravy; rich, brothy stews, accompanied with fluffy biscuits that were golden brown on the outside, pull-apart goodness on the inside; apple crisp with sweet, crunchy brown sugar crumble on top and pumpkin pie with whipped cream.

And don’t forget our beloved Jello.

While she was cooking, my older brothers, father, and grandfather cheered from the living room. Their animated faces, camaraderie, and scoffs could be heard a mile away. My mother often left the kitchen to rush in and join in the festivities because she, too, was a fan.

I was there, but not front and center. Instead, I felt the presence of family and fun from the sidelines (no pun intended).

There I would sit with puzzles permanently set up at the family’s card table. Disney colouring books and Crayola crayons were strewn about. Board games such as Trouble, Sorry, Monopoly, and Snakes and Ladders were stacked nearby, ready to play. Sometimes I would help my mother with the meal by making dessert in my Easy Bake oven. I delighted in churning out sweet sugary masses of chocolate discs for my family. The turning of those small knobby dials on my etch-a-sketch would keep me busy designing modern art. Light Bright, “making things with light,” Battleship, “hey, you sunk my battleship!” and Rock em Sock em Robots, “I can beat any kid on the block, oh no, my block was knocked off!”

Whatever happened to the Etch A Sketch?

And this…

My parents purchased season tickets to attend the Vancouver Canuck hockey games at the Vancouver Coliseum. I will never forget being taken to my first live game at the age of ten. It was a huge deal, just my dad and me, driving over the Iron Workers Memorial Bridge (at the time, it was called the 2nd Narrows Bridge), and pulling into the parking lot as my father steered our car towards a uniformed parking lot attendant who was waving his flashlight at us. Upon entering the stadium, the smell of overly salty, buttery popcorn permeated our nostrils as my little-girl eyes widened in delight! Hotdogs glistened and rolled on the rotisserie, waiting for their place in a soft white, doughy bun. When my father said, “Two please,” my heart skipped a beat. Upon receiving my own pleated white cardboard container, my dad taught me the finesse of filling and smothering my hotdog in ketchup, mustard, relish, and raw onions.

Money was tight, but there was always enough for a hotdog and a coke.

Settling into our seats in the vast arena was mind-boggling to all my senses. Taking small bites from my hotdog to make it last longer, my gaze lingered on the fans. And then my father pulled out the binoculars! So much for the eyes to see! I marvelled at the faces, families, and what others were doing. And then, while encased in my viewing pleasure, I instantly covered my ears at the earth-shattering eruption of screams. I had no idea what was happening…

In a daze of bewilderment, fear gripped me because I thought an atomic bomb had gone off. Then, gazing up into my father’s face and seeing his wide-open grin, I said, “What happened, daddy? Is everything okay?”

The fans had erupted into cheers, shouts, and applause as our team scored a goal! Completely taken aback, my dad laughed out loud at my question and fearful look. He then reassured me that our team had just scored a goal, and that’s what happens when the fans get excited.

I can still hear him repeatedly telling the story of my first live hockey game.

“All hockey players are bilingual. They know English and profanity.”

-Gordie Howe, also known as “Mr. Hockey.”

Me and Gordie Howe at his 80th Birthday party, I will save the story of this event for another time.

Gordie Howe

Born March 31, 1928, at Floral Saskatchewan

1071 Career Goals

1518 Career Assists

2589 Career Points

Inducted into the Hall of Fame 1972

In loving memory 1928 – 2016

For me, November is a time of hunkering down, settling in, nesting, taking life a little slower and reminiscing about days gone by.

The weather does that to us. Furthermore, we often use the topic during awkward moments. Talking about the weather is a great way to fill in the space when the conversation is lagging. People tend to light up when the subject of climate comes up. We love to talk about the cherry blossoms in the spring, the overly hot, sticky summers, the crisp fall mornings and how quickly the leaves might be turning. And when the rain is coming down, we like to say, “Wow, it sure is coming down out there.”

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”

-Vivian Greene

A November day is like any other, until the rain falls and becomes a bother

We lay low in the hearth of the home, and soon the sun will make us roam…

-Karen Harmon

If my blog brings up some of your fond memories, please share them in the comments below.


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