Monday, June 07, 2010

A Walk In The Woods

Last summer we were up in the woods at the family cabin. We're talking middle of nowhere here folks. Boat access only. No electricity, no running water, no phone.

Its great.

Its never more peaceful than at night. The darkness falls in the forest first of all, under the ancient pines and dense spruce and cedar, the swaying white birch and tall poplar, it comes stealing out of the woods then, down to the lake as the sun sets over the forest.

Sitting on the dock, looking up at the silent sky, I am always astounded. It is absolutely white with stars and visitors from the city are always knocked silly by the brilliance of it all. As you step back from the lake and into the beginning of the forest, the scattered trees that stand on the gentle slope down from our camp, the darkness surrounds you quickly and silently and you disappear.

Its hard to describe how black it gets, especially to an increasingly urban nation. When you sit in the cabin you can press your nose against the glass looking outside and you won't see a damn thing. Step outside and you can't see your hand in front of your face. You don't find that sort of darkness in the city. You don't find it in the Muskokas. You find it in the middle of nowhere.

Last summer we sat by a bonfire late into the night at our neighbour's place and when we decided to call it a night I picked up a flashlight and took our two oldest down the path to our place. Its a few hundred yards through the forest, a few minutes I guess, not very far.

Unless you are five and three years old.

That little walk gave me a little insight into the world as seen through the eyes of a child. They were both terrified. They cried the whole time, completely freaked out, and I am sure if the big fellow had ambled out of the forest at some point (he would often wander in the woods) they would have both shit their pants. (Probably me too I have to admit).

It wasn't until we emerged into the clearing at the end of the path and our old cabin stood there, a light in the gloom, that the sobbing and moaning stopped.

We were back in town a few nights later and they were acting up at bedtime, as they are wont to do, and I gave them some rope and they kept going, because sometimes that's how they roll, and so I walked into the bedroom and announced that if they didn't get to sleep right away then I was going to bundle them up, we were going to drive back to the landing, hop into the boat, go back to camp and take a walk in the woods.

Immediate looks of terror and then complete silence.

Keep them off balance is what I always say.


As an Oilers' fan the playoffs have been a lesson in how far this club has to go. Compete with Chicago or San Jose or Philadelphia? Hah! A million years away right now.

So while the news has been good so far this summer its a little funny. We're excited because the Oilers are SIGNING their prospects. That's how far management has fallen in our estimation. The fact that they get their picks under contract is cause for celebration.


Don't get me wrong. Paajarvi signing is great and he looks like he is ready. Eberle, other than that huge game against Norway, not so much. Of course Heatley generally has the same type of international results (fill Poland and Japan, not so much against the big boys) so maybe he's already ahead of the game. ;)

And of course there wil be Seguin or Hall and there are a lot of other prospects who look to have some value as guys who may be able to contribute down the road. We will get a look see at Vande Velde and Hartikainen and Cornet and Omark this fall and they may be O'Marra and Trukhno and Lerg all over again but then again maybe there will be something there. There.

The problem for Tambellini and I have said this before is that he has a credibility problem right now. Everything he does is questioned and mocked and laughed at and part of that is his fault and part of it is fallout from Lowe and part of it is just fans being sick of the failure that is this organization. It has to be said that since season's end it appears that things are moving in the right direction. Moves are being made to shore up the organization. It seems that some light is bring let into the musty corners of this old boys' club. It may just be words but they are the right words.

But then there is talk of another whalehunt or words of support for JF Jacques and then you can understand why Oiler fans can be forgiven if they too feel like they are walking through the darkness, waiting for some terror to leap from the woods into their path. its only been happening this way for four years now.


Baroque said...

I love being able to see the Milky Way in the night sky and the tracks of shooting stars and satellites high above. You never see just how deep space in in the city. Until you see the numbers of stars, it's hard to realize exactly how ancient peoples could map the movements of stars; when they are so bright, it's easy to keep track. :)

macaotim said...

Great read. I am looking forward to 10 days in the northern Rocky Mountains this summer. In Macao, you'd be damn lucky to see the lights of the MGM from the patio bar of the Altera. Production pollution...mmmmm yum!

As far as the hockey goes, Tambo has had a lot of time to make changes. Now he decides to put his stamp on a rebuild? What really bugs me are the comments from players about lack of communication. Prospects and current players are your lifeblood. For fuck-sakes, look after them.

Coach pb9617 said...

There are so many things lurking behind those trees too. Brule's contract, this Spezza trade rumor, the Gagner contract, the Cogliano contract, Taylor Chorney, Jason Strudwick.

It's a forest of horrors.

Anonymous said...

BD you really do write very well. I feel like I was right there. I've been fortunate to have a simlar experience only once at a friend's cabin. It really is wonderous.
This also brought back the memory of a walk with him and his dog, an all white Samoyed. To this day I'm convinced he walked a little faster to leave me stumbling in the inky dark (he claims he has great night vision and didn't realize I fell behind. Yeah, right). The white dog came romping innocently back to me and I screamed blue bloody murder. I don't think I've ever been that scared and embarassed at the same time.

uni said...

Great, you just described where I'm from as "...the middle of nowhere".

I do miss the stars though, the stars and the rain most of all. The bugs not so much.

Black Dog said...

uni - yeah the frigging bugs, my God. I had a little brother once, he was carried away by blackflies. ;)

thanks anon and thanks for the story, good stuff

Black Dog said...

coachpb - yeah lions and tigers and bears, oh my

Tim - I'm cutting him some slack really. I think you are right, the first part of his tenure has seen nothing. It does seem to me that he has finally started to put his stamp on things. I could be wrong but straws, grasping, you know how it goes.

Aaron Paquette said...

Pat starts off by assuming his audience has intelligence and heart. He goes from there.

Baroque said...

There is a reason that the state bird of Minnesota is the mosquito. :)

Go crazy with the bug spray and the stars are worth it.

Black Dog said...

Thanks Aaron, appreciate it.

Baroque - we usually get up in early August and they get a little bad at dusk but other than that we're ok. Always have the 'fly dope' (as my Mom and Dad call it)handy though.

Bruce said...

BDHS: Great stuff, as usual. Makes me sad though to hear your kids are terrified of the woods at night. Try the meadows, or take them on the same walk through the woods in daylight a few times.

Baroque: Agreed on the stars. Surprise, surprise.

As for Tambellini, I agree there's a huge credibility issue and I also agree it's not all his fault. The jackals were quick to pounce, but it seemingly took awhile for him to wrest control of the team, and all the while he was "evaluating" the team was sucking hard enough to sew up that first overall pick, which for some it seems is simulataneously cause for celebration and reason to throw another log onto Tambellini's stake.

In isolation, I'm fairly happy with Tambellini's performance in 2010. A solid trade deadline, a very nice sequence of prospect signings (Omark and MPS were far from done deals), some necessary organizational moves (Prendergast). Yes it's only a start, but for goodness sake we had to start somewhere, and somewhen.

Black Dog said...

Thanks Bruce. Yeah we'll see how they do this summer. Overall they were fine and they don't mind the woods at all. We were back and forth down that path many times.

And sitting down by the dock at night they were fine too.

But its a pretty scary little walk. They hadn't seen that one before. I think they'll be ok this year. If not then more ammo for me! ;)

Agreed on Tambellini. The Grebs move was weird but in a small sample size the Lubo move was decent. And a lot of the small moves/signings/firings and organizational trends this spring have been fine by me.

I am interested to see what this summer brings. Open mind.

MikeP said...

Only four years? You're being pretty generous, Pat.

And I can't frigging stand living in the city a lot of the time. My stepkid complained last time we visited my parents (rural NS) that she couldn't sleep because it was too quiet and dark. Man oh man. We moved off a main street and it's too quiet!

Kids these days! We're going back out this summer, it should be fun times.

Baroque said...

One other thing you could do - get your kids their own headlamps. Great for walking in the woods, and even better for looking for frogs at night by the pond. Nothing like a late-night herping expedition to get them over a worry about the dark.

And your dad should be thrilled now. :)

hunter1909 said...

Watching how brilliant Patrick Kane looked the way he scored that cup winning goal made me think about Gagner, who despite Lowetide's terrific defence of that player saw him skating around like a lost junior player for a lot of last season.

Tambellini drafts Taylor Hall and he looks like a genius, or else shows he has balls made out of cookie dough and drafts the so-called long term prospect Tyler Seguin.

Black Dog said...

MikeP - well the stretch from '97 to '06 I'll take, in the playoffs most of those years, three years where they won at least a round, one year where they were a break from winning it all. A better run than a lot of teams.

And the years right after the dynasty where they were terrible for four years, well sometimes so it goes.

Baroque - not a bad idea and that reminds me of the old pond we used to catch frogs in, may have to see if we can find it back there