It was a Saturday for shinny under a bright but beautifully cold sun — a week’s worth of freezing temps delivered postcard conditions for free-form hockey on the C&O Canal today, and I had the pleasure of sharing the experience with Off Wing Opinion’s Eric McErlain — his first-ever outdoor skate. If you take a quick peek at a video we generated from the skate, you’ll see that Eric certainly doesn’t want it to be his last such skate.
Many young shinny stars wore new Caps’ sweaters; many parents modeled an allegiance for Capitals’ hockey of yesteryear.
We arrived at the Canal a little after 10 this morning, and by noon dozens of cars were illegally parked along Canal Road, hard by Lock 7. A full half mile stretch of the canal was littered with individual games of shinny played by the very young — many of them outfitted in red Ovi sweaters — and the more experienced. It was a gorgeous sight, seeing so much hockey played in Washington on such a spectacular Saturday.
“Get your skates out and get young again and start playing some pond hockey,” Eric said in his video file. I couldn’t agree more.
The best part of recreating in this fashion? The camaraderie . . . the crisp air filling your lungs . . . being old but vaulting back in time by a game undiluted by rules, game clocks, or structure. Early Saturday evening I discovered a byproduct from three-plus hours of canal skating I certainly didn’t expect: a post-skate liveliness in my legs, a real bounce and spring in my steps that I believed couldn’t be matched from any treadmill work or jogging. I marveled at it. I was physically tired, but my legs were alive. I suspect my shinny mates felt the same — we pledged to meet back out at the Canal again on Sunday.