There was a recent bear attack at the park closest to my place. I usually commute to work by bike at 6 am, though not through that specific park. I do travel along a stream that will have salmon in it fairly soon. Carpe Diem.
I really still cannot believe the Blackhawks have won the cup. Perhaps if I still lived in Chicago I could be more thoroughly convinced. I just never thought this day would come. I attended so many games over the last 10 years and watched a weak team plod around against much better teams (often the Pronger captained Blues) and always thought that after Bill Wirtz eventually passed on we would still have a generation of slog until a winner could emerge. I never expected it to happen so soon, in a such a dominating fashion, and with such an inspiring sense of team unity. The whole team is just a joy to observe.
I don't put too much stock in mystical sports rituals like wearing a certain type of sock on game day or putting a specific leg in your baseball pants first, though I know many pros do care about such things. I believe Michael Jordan always had to have North Carolina shorts under his Bulls uniform. But I'm watching at home, so who cares if I have that extra ounce of confidence when the game starts. However, once your team is in the finals, out comes the chanting and shaking of chicken bones.
While the White Sox were getting torn up by the Orioles in 1983 , I sat nervously in our bungalow's front room and rooted along. My father told me I should wear my White Sox cap since we were watching the game. The whole family and city were nuts for the Winning Ugly Sox. For whatever reason, I couldn't stand having that cap tight on my head for the duration of the game so I fidgeted with it and removed it. I remember distinctly watching Julio Cruz get moved over to third base with no outs, only to be stranded. I swear this happened twice. Each time my father told me to keep my cap on, only to have to keep reminding me to put it back on as I fidgeted it off as the inning dragged on. They never were able to just get Julio home. Frustrating. Each time the inning ended my father burned another brand upon my brain, "You should have kept your cap on. Julio would have scored." We joked about it, but here I am blogging about it 27 years later.
I have a Blackhawks sweater with Probert on the back above the towering "24". I wear it when skating around in the winter, largely because it's incredibly comfortable and fits perfectly with hockey gloves. I also dug him as a player, so I skate around like a nerd with his jersey. You would think I would have been wearing that sucker all over Anchorage for the last 2 months. Incorrect. I wore it the day of the first game against Vancouver, only to watch the Hawks get torn up like a minor league team. Was this the end of the cup run? Is it my fault? I'm not taking any chances. In Chicago most potential sporting victories are snatched away cruelly and forever -- Cubs 1984, Sox 1983, Bears 1984, Bears post 1985, etc. (I'm sure Cub fans could sing a dirge about all the pain they've dealt with, and to that I say good for them. ) So I sat and watched nervously as the Hawks slowly thundered to the finals, yet I still only murmured that they might win the cup while keenly hiding away my jersey. They won on Wednesday, and out came the jersey on Thursday night. I can exhale now and plan on wearing it often.
It is just so wonderful to watch Pronger lose and get rocked into the boards after witnessing his Blues teams tear up the Hawks all those years.
Sorry, Julio. At least I learned from my 27 year old mistake.