Skating Away

The ice is nice. Well, in places anyway. We were undaunted by drifts and the crackly surface.

Well, in places anyway. We were undaunted by drifts and the crackly surface.

Yesterday was adventure day, a day of swimming and skating, but thankfully not in the same body of water! I dragged myself to the pool for my semi-weekly lap swim, came home smiling, and let my son talk me into an afternoon skate. I didn’t expect it to last long because I thought we’d be discouraged by lousy ice. But as it turned out, the ice was nice. Except where the snow had drifted across it, and you’d have to stop to run through the drift. As our blades sliced it, the snow made a hissing sound like water vaporizing off a woodstove. And then there was the crackly ice, which sometimes supported our skates, but sometimes, treacherously, grabbed them instead.

And miles to go before I sleep...

And miles to go before I sleep…

A frozen lake looks flat–until you’re actually skating on it. Then it has hills and mountains, divots and ruts and it’s all a skater can do to avoid becoming airborne or feeling like your leg is being separated from your body because your skate is stuck. But between the drifts, the rough surface, the mountains, the ice was smooth and we could skate, so skate we did. All the way across (a half-mile?) and down to a swimming area we love (another mile) and back. It was on the way back that I went down hard. Tired, I didn’t see the rise, but my blade certainly slammed into it. Bam. I dusted myself off and re-committed myself to zen-like attention to the surface.

All the leaves are brown and the sky is gray/I went for a skate on a winter's day~ Peter Paul and Mary

All the leaves are brown and the sky is gray/I went for a skate on a winter’s day~ Mamas and the Papas.

We were not alone out there, not by a long shot. In fact, I wonder if anyone in our little town was home Saturday afternoon. Judging by the number of trucks and snowsleds, they were all out on the ice. The boat launch is a popular access point and all the spaces in the lot were taken, and most along the road. But when the lake’s frozen as deeply as it is right now (18 inches), the whole place is a parking lot. So a dozen trucks were parked where the dock sits in summer. Others drove their cars or trucks right out to their ice shacks. It’s irresistible: to go where no man’s gone before, or at least to drive where you can’t in summer.

[caption id="attachment_338" align="alignnone" width="300"]Home sweet home. Home sweet home.

Often colorful homes away from home, ice fishermen while away the day in their ice shacks between forays of trap-tending. And by while I mean drink. Not all of them, but more than one has been known to consume a wee bit of coffee brandy of a winter. Yesterday, though, it was family day on the ice and it was more about everyone getting outside even in winter, bundled in their Bean’s best snow gear, their wool plaid jackets, laden with woven pack baskets, to see that even though the world seems dead and frozen, below the ice there is life in the form of a flapping fish pulled from an eight-inch hole. Or above the ice when we skate like Hans Brinker off into the sunset.

See the drifts and clear patches? Challenging, but great fun.

See the drifts and clear patches? Challenging, but great fun.

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2 thoughts on “Skating Away

  1. I’m finally here, Julia! After months and months of yellow post its reminding me to “read Julia’s blog,” I am finally here! This is so lovely. Your writing is so beautiful and what I like to call, “delicious!” You really should consider sending some articles in to magazines! Love, Renee XO

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