Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Hardest Part of Skating is the Ice . . .

As a child I loved these bright, cold, crisp days. They meant the ice would be especially fast at the neighborhood rink.

Every winter I would wait impatiently for the rink to be ready. For the ice to be thick enough, smooth enough to skate on.

I would take my skates down to get sharpened in preparation. Once home they would be glossed over with a new coat of Kiwi White Polish. New laces were always the finishing touch.

My friends and I often went skating after school when the rink was virtually empty. Lots of room for flying along, cracking the whip and practicing spins and fancy stops. I spun and flew until it was dark and time to go home for supper.

On sunny Saturday's the rink was always filled with laughter and the ring of steel skates. Little ones on double blades just learning to balance. Teenage boys joking and chasing one another. Couples, skating rhythmically side-to-side, arms linked, trying to avoid the boys who would flash by nearly knocking everyone down in their wake.

I tended to avoid the warm-up hut. Similar in style to a sauna it had rows of elevated benches and a central firepit. It smelled of wet wool, wood smoke, spilt cocoa and sweat.

The exhilaration of flying along, the laughter, rosy cheeks and hot cocoa sipped while sitting in a rink-side snowbank are childhood memories stored away among treasured things.

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