I love ice skating outdoors. When I was a little girl, I would sometimes skate on Wolverine Lake. On good days, the ice would be black and smooth, and I could lay down, cup my hands around my eyes, and look down through the dark cold and see aquatic plants frozen in the ice.
But the lake was several miles from our house, and often it was too windy to really enjoy skating there. Once or twice, I recall, our road was so icy I was able to skate back and forth on it, but it wasn’t quite the same. So my dad built me my own little skating rink in the backyard. It was nothing overly elaborate — just a two-by-four frame. He put down sheet plastic, flooded it with the garden hose, and let it freeze.
I vividly remember skating on that little sheet of ice on winter evenings. It was magical. The cold darkness. Silence broken only by the swish of my skate blades. The ice all to myself, but the warm light of home spilling out the windows and onto the snow. I wasn’t doing any double axels or camel spins, but I loved twirling and gliding across the ice.
I’ve always dreamed of recreating that backyard skating pond. We live near a lake, but often it is too snowy or too windy to get out there. The nearby town of Palmer has an arena, but I have never enjoyed the harsh lights, strangely still air, and noisy crowds of an indoor ice rink.
A skating pond in our yard, however, has been until now virtually impossible. We don’t have a well or live within a city system, so we haul our own water. But over the summer, we got a 200-gallon tank for hauling water in the back of our truck. So…
Yesterday Sam and I moved back the wood pile so he could get the plow truck up into our yard. Then he plowed out a nice little square. Today I’m going to go through our heap of scrap lumber and piece together enough boards to make the frame. It might take a few trips of hauling water, but I think we can make it work.
I planned to wait for some cold, clear weather to flood the pond. But then we woke up to the moon, stars, and 15 below zero. (That’s Fahrenheit, so for Celsius readers, it’s -26.)
Hopefully my next letter to you will include some photos of our shiny new skating pond.
P.S. Thank you all for your kind, enthusiastic reponses to my last letter. I have had a few people email me to ask if I am in fact going to France. ABSOLUTELY! It is a definite yes, yes, yes that I will be going. We are also considering making it a family trip — my 12-year-old might never forgive me if I go to London and Paris without her.