On Saturday morning, I got my skates and walked down to Como Lake. Someone has been maintaining a tiny patch of lake ice just two blocks from my house, and since the hockey rinks were full, I figured I'd skate there.
(The picture above is of the hockey rink where I skated two weeks ago. The lake rink (below) is tiny, only as long as the hockey rink is wide.)
I sat down in the snow and laced up my skates. The ice at the edge was rough, and I almost killed myself getting from the snowbank to center ice. But then it was lovely! Silky. And it was fun to be on the lake and look at the walking path and the houses from that perspective.
It took a little while to get my legs, and the rink was so small I was constantly turning, so I could never get up a good head of steam. But I got more of a glide going this time, rather than the lurching shuffle of last week. I was feeling pretty good....
... until I hit something, I don't know what--a bump? an air pocket? my own foot?-- and went flying. I went down, hard, and my hat sailed off into the snow. I sat on the ice and laughed.
Getting up was tricky--once you put weight on your foot, your skate blade wants to go. But I had just managed to get to my feet and push off again when I saw a man, a boy, and a chair headed toward me.
The man was carrying the boy, who already had his skates on, under one arm, and the fold-up chair under the other arm. He set the boy on the ice (the boy promptly fell over), unfolded the chair, sat down on it, and started changing into his skates. Clearly, he had done this before.
"A little bumpy?" he asked, and I thought that was kind of him, letting me blame the ice for my clumsiness.
He said his name was Victor, and it was he who had made this rink.
"I went out to the middle of the lake and drilled a hole and got a pump and pumped the water over here," he said.
Ah. No wonder it was so smooth, while the rest of the lake was so rough!
He's flooded it more than once already this winter; it's where he teaches his son, Julian, to skate. (Julian, lurching nearby in a Laurie-like manner, promptly fell over again.) "The hockey rinks aren't safe for a little kid," Victor said. "They go so fast, and the puck just flies around."
I would agree. They're not safe for awkward middle-aged women, either.
I told him that it was he who had inspired me to get on skates again after 15 years, and I told him how I had seen him and Julian skating there one evening when I was walking the dogs.
By now my shoulder was starting to throb from the fall (and continues to throb even today), so I put on my boots and left Victor and Julian to their little patch of ice. When I looked back, Victor was gliding around smoothly, and Julian was collapsing to the ground like a small, heavy bag of sand.
I shot you all another video, this time trying to aim at the horizon instead of the ground. I warn you, I couldn't look through the viewfinder and keep my balance at the same time, so I chose to keep my balance.
The result is very Blair Witch Project. You might want to take some dramamine first.
And, if you'd like to see where I'd really like to skate, click here. So beautiful.
Merivel: A Man of His Time
55 minutes ago