FRI., DEC. 5, 2003
It’s upsetting for some that Austin bypasses fall and plunges directly into winter – no brilliant autumnal hues; no huge, playful piles of deciduous droppings; no crisp strolls through the pumpkin patch; no sweater weather. Well, actually, we do have sweater weather. It’s called winter. In Austin, winter happens when the daytime highs start clocking in at a pleasant 60 degrees. Regardless of what the thermometer says, those who put on wool in the morning will very likely be pulling it off in the afternoon. Sure, the mercury might plunge beneath freezing on occasion; the grass some mornings might be glazed with a silvery frost; you might wake up to find a delicate veneer of ice in the birdbath every once in a while, but by and large the “cold” is rarely intense enough to ruin a good game of Frisbee golf. If anything, winter weather in Austin drives people outdoors rather than in. Finally it’s comfortable to have a smoke on the patio or a jog through the greenbelt. You can even put the top down on your convertible without soaking your shirt, but drive carefully because everybody else in town is out running around blowing all of the money they’re saving on their utility bills. Even with all of the windfalls, however, there are still plenty of transplanted northerners who pine for the winter wonderlands of their youth. Somehow, occasionally seeing their breath in the morning isn’t enough. They long for pristine drifts of snow, icicles on the eaves, skating on the frozen pond – nothing wrong with that, but the only frozen ponds around these parts are indoors and glazed by a perpetually aloof looking guy on a Zamboni. Whether you’re a fan or not, hockey is an excellent way to experience winter without actually suffering through it. Happily, Austin has its own professional hockey team, the Ice Bats. Almost every week, the Ice Bats defend their slab out at the Travis County Expo Center, aka “The Bat Cave.” If you think the Ice Bats’ name is an odd combination, consider the fact that the Bat Cave normally serves as a rodeo arena (talk about your Texas-sized guano). Even still, the Bats play hard, fight hard, and provide a rollicking good evening of cool entertainment. This Friday at 7:30pm, the Ice Bats take on the Laredo Bucks, a fearsome group of transplanted northerners from an equally preposterous locale, climatologically. As an added bonus, local author Jason Cohen will be on hand to sign copies of his latest book, Zamboni Rodeo, a fascinating and hilarious look into the gritty world of minor league hockey. Literature? Hockey? Rodeo? How eclectic is that? Of course, no one in their right mind would try to tell you that a hockey game is a great place to meet the love of your life, but if hockey in Austin teaches us anything, it’s that weirder stuff can happen, right?