By MIKE NORTON As the weekend temperatures tumbled below zero around the Norton house, Karen and I went into two wildly different modes of winter adaptation. She wrapped herself in a blanket, found a sunny spot to sit in, and curled up with a good fat book. Me, I zipped on my old snowmobile suit with the duct-tape patches and drove up to Lighthouse Point for some snowshoeing. Yeah, it was cold - but the sun was bright, I was properly dressed, and the ice had firmed up so well that I could do something I've never done in all the time we've lived at Old Mission - I walked out to the tiny island that sits just off the northwest point of the Peninsula, about a half mile from shore. When we first moved out here people would chuckle and tell us, "This isn't the end of the world, but you can definitely see it from here." Well, this time I actually felt that way. It was a silent, frozen world of blue and white, punctuated by brilliant gold grasses, dark boulders and flashes of blinding sulight reflecting up from the ice.
Blue, white and gold: the little no-name islet off the tip off Old Mission
It's not much of an island, really: a quarter-mile in length and a few yards wide, covered with grasses, shrubs and a few gaunt poplar trees, and I don't think it has a name. But it gave me a reason to leave the shore and wander out on the ice, and I'm glad I did. My little adventure of the day! Speaking of ice, this cold snap is good news for the organizers of the Traverse City Outdoor Classic pond hockey tournament, which will be held this Saturday and Sunday out at the new hockey grounds on Three Mile Road. (The event was originally going to be called the "Hockeytown North Outdoor Classic" and was scheduled for Jan. 14-16, but copyright problems and scheduling conflicts forced some changes along the way.) Anyway, they've got a fair number of teams signed up, and I think I'll go down there and see what it's like. Don't know if you've heard about pond hockey, but it's spreading like wildfire across the northern U.S. and Canada. As its name suggests, the game is usually played on a frozen lake or pond - but what's important is that it's always played outdoors under natural conditions, with all the uncertainties of wind, sun, snow and uneven ice. There are no set numbers of players on a team, no goalies, and no hard physical contact. It's sort of like pick-up basketball on skates. And good passing becomes extremely important, because a lost puck ends up deep inside the surrounding snowdrifts! To learn more about the Traverse City Outdoor Classic, visit the Grand Traverse Hockey Association website at www.tchockey.com. Kind of cool!.