Saturday, February 02, 2008

Quick learner

Six weeks ago, the young man driving this sled had never seen snow. He's the son of the editor I hired for our weekly paper in Livermore Falls and had lived in Florida and Texas before arriving in Maine in the middle of a nasty blizzard. He was so excited by his first sight of snow that he jumped in the middle of a bunch of it and discovered ice ... and a cracked ankle that put him in the wrong kind of boot for his first few weeks here.

But he's adapted, as you see. He and his mother went to the dog sled races today, two days before his 13th birthday, and someone there offered him a rig and a dog so he could enter the junior one-dog sprint. He finished third, which ain't bad for someone who's just getting used to the idea of a real winter.

Here he is with some other dogs, one of whom is delighted to see him and one of whom has other concerns. I'm told his grandfather gave him some Jack London books, so he'll be studying up on all this sled dog business. But he seems to have grasped the essentials.

As for me, I was up in Rangeley covering a pond hockey tournament. They started the tourney last year and had 10 teams; this year, they got 20 signed up from around New England and Canada. Pond hockey is becoming a big thing, probably because it's a lot of fun and because there was a hockey surge a few years ago with high schools starting up teams, but those guys are all getting into their thirties now and starting to enjoy the idea of a game where you don't get smashed into the boards quite so often.

Next weekend? Next weekend I'll be heading back into the hills to cover a dogsled race in Oquossoc. Not sure what Andrew will be up to. Something involving snow, I imagine.

(Andrew's mother took the top two pictures, I took the last)


Nostalgic for the Pleistocene said...

That's delightful - show up to watch a competitive event, and next thing you know you get to participate. For fun. What a concept!

Happy B'day to Andrew - Aquarians rule! 8~)

Anonymous said...

It's nice to be stuck in a place with nothing to do. What a great area.

ronnie said...

A great story and some great photos.

I think a lot of the appeal in, and reason for the resurgence of, pond hockey has to do with disappointment in how commercialized the NHL has become... Nobody knows who half the NHL teams are, they expand into the most ridiculous cities without any kind of a natural fan base, and it's hard to get worked up over my Habitants playing against ... The Carolina Hurricanes??? More and more people are investing their emotions and their fandom to AAA and minor league teams (Moncton is *insane* about their Wildcats) and pond hockey tournaments. Next year you should try to get the paper to finance a trip to cover the World Pond Hockey Championships in Plaster Rock, NB, pop. 1300! (It's a big deal. Some of the games are televised nationally. Talk about a small town taking a niche market and making something of it!) And if you come, the hot chocolate is on me.