Last game at dusk 0103_StaatsYesterday was Hockey Day in Minnesota; one day set aside to celebrate the sport of hockey in the State of Hockey.  It was celebrated with the return of the NHL and the Minnesota Wild’s game.  The University of Minnesota Golden Gophers played, high school teams across the state played (including some games held outside), and the US Pond Hockey Championship was ongoing too.  Six years ago the Pond Hockey Championship was started to celebrate the joy of hockey “the way nature intended” on a lake in Minneapolis.  The weather was mild on Friday and Saturday morning, but a front moved through Saturday afternoon with the temperatures plummeting from 37 to 11 degrees in a matter of hours, and the winds picked up until they were howling at 20+ mph.  No worries though…the games went on.  We wandered down to Lake Nokomis around 5:30pm to take in the energy and the excitement as the last games of the day were finishing just after dusk.  The sky was dark with the last blush of sunset on the far horizon, the lights were turned on for the hockey rinks on the lake, and the wind was blowing loose snow across the ice.  But all was right in Minnesota, and the cold was just another reason to revel in the winter weather and appreciate what is means to be in the State of Hockey.

With the coldest week of our winter so far, the weather has been perfect for the U.S. Pond Hockey Championships that were held at Lake Nokomis this weekend.  Attracting hockey players from all over the world, the games are held outside in the winter landscape of the frozen lake.  No matter the temperature, the players are in their element.  Some teams show up in full hockey uniforms, while others are playing in jeans and red flannel shirts.  But it’s the sport and the camaraderie that’s showcased here.  So that’s the good of our winter weekend.  However the ice also played a sinister part in my weekend.  While I was walking up to the warming tent at the Pond Hockey tournament, I shared an experience that many other Minnesotans have endured this winter.  My feet went out from under me and I landed on the ice, trying to steady myself with my right hand.  Oops! – not the thing to do.  This split-second slip earned me a trip to urgent care and x-rays of my wrist.  Luckily it’s not broken, although it’s done its share of swelling and turning black and blue.  I now have a renewed appreciation of my dominant right hand and all the things I use it for.  Note to self:  Be aware, be alert, take small steps, and concentrate on what you’re doing and where you’re going.  We still have many more weeks of winter to go and, needless to say, I don’t want a repeat performance.

Although I’m not a big fan of new year’s resolutions, I’ve made two resolutions for 2011.  The first is to continue to post to this blog every week, so you can all stay tuned for new photographs throughout the year.  My second resolution is to have more fun in 2011.  It’s way too easy to get bogged down with the details and worries of daily life, and it’s not good and/or healthy to stress over them.  So my answer to that is to enjoy and appreciate each day, and with that to have more fun.  And what better way to begin the year than with the mascot of the University of Minnesota, Goldy Gopher!  We attended the Gopher hockey match on New Year’s Eve, and had a grand time.  A good game, with lots of great puck handling and passes, but unfortunately our Gophers lost in overtime.  But I made sure to have my picture taken with Goldy.  Who can resist a golden gopher with a great big smile, and a Happy New Year tiara to boot!