It was cold tonight. I worried that the girls’ hair – still wet from showering just ten minutes ago – would crackle and freeze.
After the first tentative glides, grins spreading across our faces, I looked in disbelief from one to the other. “Oh my God. We did it. We really did it!”
It’s been a weird winter. A few cold days, sure. But the snow? It’s just not happening. Seven measly inches so far (compared normal average of 40″ by this time). While this is actually lovely in many ways, it has not boded well for one of our most favorite winter pastimes: the ice rink.
After our warmest December on record and not even the slightest chance of getting the ice to set, Nick declared shortly after January 1st that he just isn’t feeling the rink this year. Too much work, too few days when the ice might be skate-able; maybe next time.
I was crushed. I’m not sure if that’s because I actually love skating (given that I’m a terrible skater, this seems a bit unlikely) or just because I love the idea of skating, but the thought of not even having the chance to skate made me really freakin’ bummed. I decided to ask the girls what they thought; if I was the only one who wanted the rink, it was probably silly to have it. If they wanted it too, it was probably worth it.
They wanted it.
When I said I’d build it, they were incredulous. “You’ll build the rink??” As though maybe I was suggesting that I’d capture a caribou and ride it across the lawn, Chuck Norris style. (I doubt that Chuck Norris has ridden a caribou, BUT HE COULD.) I told them I most certainly could – and would – build the rink.
So I did.
I sized up the spot in the yard, conferred with the girls on how big we wanted it (smaller than last year so it would freeze more easily and be simpler to maintain), set up the planks (with the girls’ assistance), and put ’em together. With bracket-y things. And screws. And a drill. It was beautiful.
Exhibit A: NO SNOW. Nope. Nada.
Three days ago, the moment for filling the rink came: at least a week of lows in the teens and highs below freezing. It was time.
Exhibit B: January 10th. Still no snow.
I knew what I was doing; I’ve watched Nick for years. When I turned on the hose, it was 50* but was predicted to drop to the teens by nighttime – perfect.
While all of my plans went exactly as – well, planned – the weather decided to be… difficult. Oh, it dipped into the teens, all right. But it did so in the span of 90 minutes (rather than many hours), ushered in by a wind storm so violent, it knocked out power in our neighborhood for over three hours that night. Almost instantaneously, the once-pristine rink was filled not just with standing water but gazillions of leaves and several dozen sticks and branches.
In case you were wondering, an ice rink with the consistency of a thick soup doesn’t make for very good skating.
With Annie’s assistance, we removed as much junk as possible. Then, we waited. I hoped that by today – three days after filling – it would be frozen enough to go.
Things started off well (freezing as scheduled!), then took a turn for disaster (snow melted into the surface and turned it into very deep sandpaper). Disheartened, I had all but decided that maybe Nick was right to skip this year; maybe, with this bizarre weather, it was just impossible.
I wasn’t quite ready to give up, though. We were this close… So I crossed my fingers that maybe a few buckets of hot water would fix things up.
Six hours later, with just enough time to skate before the girls went to bed, I held my breath and examined the earlier repairs.
The ice was smooth.
Not perfect – some bumps remain – but absolutely skate-able.
Thirty minutes later, we were on it.
By God; I know how to make an ice rink. SWEET FANCY MOSES!!
The girls and I just kept laughing. Annie – ever the daredevil – took one hesitant step (slide?) onto the surface and then was ready, cutting curves around our little rink. Ella – ever more cautious – was surprisingly sure of herself. “Mama, we made this! So I know it’s good. I’m going to work on gaining confidence so I can skate more.”
We made “fishies” and practiced crossovers, spun and glided. At their request, I played Adele from my phone; we circled and soared to “Send My Love (To Your New Lover)” and “Sweetest Devotion.” We watched snowflakes – huge, glittering – fall to the ice in the floodlights. The air was refreshingly crisp; we didn’t even notice the cold.
And over and over, we kept coming back to the same idea: We made this. We did it. We built it and it worked and now we are on it and it is glorious.
“Mom, how come everyone always asks if we have figure skates?”
“Yeah! It’s not like only boys can play hockey! Why couldn’t we have hockey skates?”
“Besides! Hockey skates are way more comfortable than figure skates!”
“Right! Girls can wear hockey skates, too.”
“Girls can do anything!”
Tonight? We really felt like we could.
So very proud of themselves.
Also? Wearing hockey skates. Because we can do anything.