HOCKEY - - - under winter skies
NON FICTION BOOK REVIEW
Title:HOCKEY - - - under winter skies;
by: Peter Shostak; Published by Yalenka Enterprises; ISBN: 0-9691180-5-8; paperback,
54 pages, US$19.95, CAN$24.95
Reviewer: Ernie Fedoruk: 'All who experienced life on the Prairies in winter will enjoy
Shostak's delightful ride back into time as he explains the joy, the exhilaration and
the adaptations youngsters everywhere could make before the days of the Zamboni,
over-organization, indoor rinks, fisticuffs and over-bearing parents.'
Peter Shostak never made it to the big time as a hockey player but the well-known
Canadian artist "stickhandles" like a major leaguer to remind, with his paintings and
his prose, the machismo and glory of "HOCKEY - - - under winter skies."
That is the title of Peter's new book, illustrated with 26 paintings all inspired by his
personal memories of boyhood life on the Canadian Prairies in winter. Those were the
pre-television days when one game dominated the lives of young boys whenever ice, snow
and chill prevailed for four, five or six of the year's 12 months.
Shostak's boyhood days were not unique. Legions of North Americans will enjoy his ride
back into time as he explains the joy, the exhilaration and the adaptations
youngsters could make before the days of the Zamboni, over-organization, indoor rinks,
fisticuffs and over-bearing parents.
By today's highway standards, everyone would consider 30 miles "close." Therefore we
were neighbors, almost. My boyhood days in elementary school preceded Peter's by two
decades but, after the delightful reminder from HOCKEY --- under winter skies, our
young lives were very much alike. We made the same adaptations with equipment, our
much-too-large skates and outdoor rinks, not one of which would ever match another in
size and shape.
His ice, as Peter remembers, was never smooth and rarely clear of snow. Usually, with
"twigs, and grass, ripples and bumps, cracks and gouges." So was ours. If we lost our
only puck in a snowbank, we would improvise with frozen horse droppings and continue
the game. Or, on occasion, someone would rush off and prepare new "pucks" sawn from
a three-inch branch found in a wood pile.
Our night games were without artificial light. Prairie snow was always white enough and
the moons generally bright enough to allow us to play until maternal voices called
"bed-time!" Without fail, that marked the end of one day's game.
Like me, Shostak left the Prairies and the cold behind. Lured by a position at the
University of Victoria, he arrived in Victoria three decades ago to permanently enjoy
this delightful climate. The lack of snow in Victoria does not detract from the niceties
of Peter's boyhood memories.
The dancing and eerie magnificence of the northern lights always was a treat to behold.
Without smog or fog, the snow-covered countryside could be viewed for miles with the
help of only a bright moon. (Is there a country-boy who has never chased a rabbit at a
time when it should be night but our world then was too bright?)
Peter Shostak remembers well. His wonderful paintings and text will delight all who,
even if only briefly, experienced "winter skies." And it is sure to entertain and
explain to those who weren't as lucky.
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