Skating is pretty much second nature to most of us Canadians. That and snowshoeing to the grocery store to buy ice for our igloos. Ok, I jest. Our fridges make ice, we don’t need to buy it.
I’ve mentioned in the past about my son being in speed skating. Feel free to read about it: My Son- The Future Olympian. But I never talked about my personal skating experience. When I was a boy- younger than what my son is now- I learned how to skate in my backyard.
Yes, some parts of Canada allow for an ice rink to be made in literally our own backyards. My father would packdown the snow on our lawn with a board and build up an edge of snow all around. He would stand outside with the hose for about a week straight every evening creating ice. Each night, he would come inside for a coffee and a quick warm up, then back out. This often lasted for a few hours. I would watch him from the upstairs kitchen window until the darkness overcame the outdoors. After the first year, my father invested in flood lights so we could skate well into the night. Or until we froze our toes and fingertips. Frostbite among Edmontonians was a right of passage. My ears have felt the burn in the past.
My father, proud of his accomplishment, would invite the neighborhood kids (and the parents) for a skating party. There was hot apple cider and hot chocolate served in styrofoam cups. Laughs and fun would be had for a few hours. Hockey sticks and pucks a plenty remained in our yard every winter.
My father taught me how to skate. I remember how tight he would pull the laces on my skates, even with his frozen hands. After learning the basics of hockey he would play pass with me. We had a few late nights with the white, red and green flood lights shining down on us as we skated around.
Memories of my father aren’t always good. But the winter season and Christmas meant a lot to him. This year, as I have written my blog, I have shown who I pictured my father to be. Good and bad- I do miss him. Sometimes I wonder what kind of grandfather he would have made. He would probably still be out there with his thumb over the end of the hose, creating a shimmering glass sheet of ice waiting for the children to mark it up with their blades.