For a week that had three nights off and a holiday in it, last week felt very long.
Friday night, I covered the Brighton-Houghton hockey game at Dee Stadium - a matchup of two of the best teams in the state - and not only did I feel like I hadn't captured the game, in print or in pictures, they way I wanted to, I felt distracted.
I spoke with a fellow editor who had rode the bus up from Brighton with the team. We compared notes about the game, which appeared destined to go down to the wire. All I could talk about was my fear that overtime would mess up my efforts to make our Friday night publication deadline.
Don't take it personally, Houghton fans. Everyone has an off night.
The paper got out and I trudged home. As I checked up on the world I left behind before hitting the hay, word started trickling in of the death of Portage Lake Pioneer Roger Lewis in a snowmobile accident. A long week gets longer.
After my customary Saturday morning megasnooze, I picked up my car for an afternoon watching Michigan Tech basketball at the SDC Gym.
Even under the downtown Houghton parking deck, brilliant sunshine could not be denied. When I got to my car, I saw a scene to brighten my spirits even more. There were, playing right behind the Daily Mining Gazette building in the shadow of the Portage Lake Lift Bridge, a group of skaters on the Portage Canal playing pond hockey.
The scene was too picturesque not to photograph. So I did. I enjoyed it so much I may steal a picture or two for my really-late Christmas cards.
I was immediately reminded of the song CBC uses for its Hockey Day in Canada broadcast, "Skating Rink," by David Francey, which sometimes I think was written with Houghton in mind.
"I'm standing, looking upward, and I'm listening to the sound/of the village in the lonely heart of winter."
Sunday morning, I hear from Mrs. Hollands, my high school journalism teacher, via Facebook: "The lockout is over!"
Sure enough, it was true. Before I had a chance to get to church to offer prayers of thanksgiving, this pointless stalemate had ended and a national Hockey League season saved.
I expounded on the lockout in great detail a while ago. As disgusted as I am that this charade carried on as long as it did, it's over, and I'm going to be really happy to enter Red Wings games into the TV schedule again and not have to deal with Gary Bettman until he is mercilessly and deservedly booed while presenting the Stanley Cup.
I'm not qualified to offer a eulogy for Roger here, nor a sermon on the nature of Heaven, but I'd like to believe both that pond hockey game in the sunshine and the end of the lockout might have been influenced from outside this world.
"Weeping may endure for the night, but joy cometh for the morning." - Psalm 30:5
Brandon Veale can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/redveale.