The backyard tomato patch staked with old hockey sticks is perhaps the most uniquely Canadian thing I can think of.
In the spirit of Canada Day, it’s worthy of a little reflection.
When I grew up, in the 1970’s, all hockey sticks were made out of wood. They were made in Canada and if I remember correctly, most were made in Quebec. We got our sticks from the gas station, where they were sold back in the 70’s, often as a sort of impulse purchase when your parents were getting gas.
The new stick started out for ice hockey and eventually, in a simple act of up-cycling, before we used words like that, it would become a road hockey stick…The official transition from ice to road occurred after a single use on the pavement, maybe in a pinch when you couldn’t find your current road hockey stick. Once used on the street, it simply became your road hockey stick and could never go back on the ice. That’s just how it was.
Now a good road hockey stick was something to be coveted and you would try and keep it in use for as long as possible. It was a badge of honour to play with a blade worn down to a sliver of its original size, showing all others just how much hockey you played.
When you finally retired your stick, it went into the line-up of old sticks, along the inside wall of the garage. Actually, these sticks would be better classified as semi-retired, waiting at the ready in case someone showed up without a stick or someone broke a stick mid-game.
At some point though, all sticks would end up broken. The shaft would snap or the blade would break and they would no longer be useful for hockey. Worth noting that even these sticks, on occasion, would still be used as a last resort when nothing else was available to play with. A broken stick, maybe with just a nub of the blade remaining. It’s funny reflecting on that. Re-using at it best I guess.
The next stage for the hockey stick was where the real creative up-cycling took place. It became a tomato stake in the vegetable garden. If I remember correctly, this is how all garden veggies were staked in the 1970’s ;)
I can still see my old hockey sticks, the different brands sticking up out of my parents garden behind the garage, holding up Dads beefsteak tomato crop.
Fast forward to 2018 and here I am using my kids' old sticks for the very same thing, in my own backyard. It’s a small thing maybe, but I take some pride in my settling for the practicality of the hockey stick to stake my tomatoes. I saved a few bucks, I feel good about a little up-cycling and feel happy to carry on the tradition, not just one from my family, but a much wider Canadian tradition.
Happy Canada Day everyone, from all of us at Wanigan Organics.