The Skating Rink

             One of the best things to enjoy about winter is skating.   In fact, years ago you wouldn’t have been considered Canadian if you didn’t like skating, my generation having been raised on hockey and a daily dose of outdoor exercise.   If you were a true Canadian, you never missed watching Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday nights.   I admit I haven’t skated in years and thought to take it up again in retirement, but my last Bone Density test was not good, so I fear my skating days are over.   Watching the neighbors kids  through my kitchen window is the closest I have come to the sport lately, and although I might have been moaning about having to do the dishes by hand at least I had a pleasant scene to gaze upon, especially after school when the spotlights were glowing, and the flurries flying.    Still, I was wondering, what if I built my own skating rink?   I have such a big square rectangle of a back yard, that it seems a shame to waste it.    

Skating rink

       Now that the neighbors have moved, I seldom see any children playing outside in the winter or in the summer either.   When I first moved to this subdivision there were always games of street hockey after school, now everyone is inside on their video games.   I grew up skating on the farm.    There was a low spot behind the barn which made for an excellent skating rink when it was flooded.   Here is a picture my mother painted of it, complete with the family dogs.   My brothers and cousins would sometimes go to the pond at the back of the farm to play hockey, but it was a long way to walk, there and back, in the cold.  Hockey on the Pond - AMc

Although skating was one of my favorite winter activities, I was not thrilled about having to wear black skates.   They were hand-me-downs from my brother, but my mother probably figured it didn’t matter as who would see us, way out in the country,skating (me)

But even at age six I knew that black skates were for boys – girls wore white skates, for figure skating.    By the time the arena was built in town and free skating hours were held on Sundays, I had a pair of white skates as I simply refused to go otherwise.    The best thing about skating in the arena was the music blaring from the loudspeakers, but it was the sixties and we had the Beatles and other groovy tunes.    While cleaning out the basement a few years ago I found the diary I got for Christmas the year I was eleven.   We had a skating rink at school that January, courtesy of some long forgotten but dedicated teacher, and practically every day the entry is the same – “went skating at lunch hour”.   Re-reading the diary, I seem to have been obsessed with skating, but maybe I had nothing else to write about – our lives were simpler and more uneventful back then.   By the time the February thaw came I had given up on both the skating and the writing and the rest of the diary is just a series of blank pages.

The winters were colder too and longer, at least it seems so in retrospect.   I remember my cousin and I once skating over the fields when we were teenagers – there was such a hard crust of freezing rain and ice on top of the snow that the whole farm was our skating rink that weekend.      

My dad remembers a few years where the winter was so cold and the ice build up so thick that it was possible to skate on the river.   That would be  dangerous now, and probably was then too.   My mother lost a childhood friend, a teenage boy who fell through the ice.   She was to go with him and another friend that day, but she didn’t have any skates.   My dad saved up $5 in the Depression to buy his first pair of skates.      

Skating must be in my genes, as my maternal grandmother hailed from Holland, where she remembered skating on the canals in the winter.    Dutch Inheritance - AMcWhile every small town in Canada has an indoor skating arena, there are very seldom any outdoor rinks anymore, and by outdoor rinks I mean big community rinks, not just a small square of ice in someone’s backyard.    Occasionally someone’s attempt to build a backyard rink gets shut down because of zoning bylaws or neighbors complaining about the noise, but kudos to the brave dads who attempt it, as they are the ones standing out at midnight in the freezing cold flooding the thing every night.   

Being outside in the fresh air was always part of the fun, layering up with double socks and mittens and thick scarfs around our necks and faces…..and then coming in hours later with red cheeks and frozen fingers to warm up over hot chocolate.    Some winters are just not suitable, it’s too mild or rainy, or just not cold enough – you must have a consistent spell of below freezing weather….the old six weeks of winter thing.   We did not even get our first major snowstorm this year until January 19, so this has not been the best year for making ice, but we are now in for a prolonged spell of below freezing windchill weather, so why don’t we have more outdoor rinks?   I see parcels of empty land here and there around town and think now that would make an ideal skating rink.   It seems to me that it wouldn’t be that expensive to build a temporary ice rink, and think of the fun the kids could have.   We have splashpads now that cost $150,000 instead of swimming pools.   You can skate in an arena where ice time is rare and always scheduled, but there’s nowhere to play a pick-up game of shimmy.    Many larger cities have skating centres, like Nathan Phillips Square in downtown Toronto.   You can skate on the Rideau Canal in Ottawa, but the weather is much colder in our nation’s capital.   If I’m ever in New York in the wintertime I would risk falling and breaking a hip just to be able to skate at the Rockefeller Centre – but first I would make sure I have travel insurance!       

skating rink

Having a backyard rink would be fun for the adults too.    I’ve often thought a skating party would be nice idea for a New Years Eve party, for all ages – the music – the outdoor lights – a bonfire – hot drinks – good food.    Chili and potato soup, or lobster Newburg and champagne if you want something fancier.    I used to talk sports with one of my work colleagues, who was a real hockey fiend.    Every year I would joke, “Bob, do you think this is the year I will have a skating rink?“ and he would reply, “If you build it, we will come.”     

I still have my skates – they are in the basement somewhere.   Am I brave enough to take a spin?  I wish I had a rink outside my back door….  

Song of the Day:   Joni Mitchell – I Wish I Had a River

Beverage of the Day:  Hot Chocolate made with imported Valrhona French cocoa….at $20 a box it’s expensive but worth it and not at all bitter as dark chocolate can sometimes be. 

hot chocolate

Gourmet Hot Chocolate

19 thoughts on “The Skating Rink

  1. Dave says:

    Your mother’s painting is priceless, as is the photo of you in black skates. Even though Colorado gets plenty of snow and freezing temps (I think we got the same Jan 19 storm you did), I always think indoor rinks instead of outdoor ponds. Outdoor pond skating always makes me remember that early scene in “It’s A Wonderful Life” where Harry Bailey falls through the ice, and George and friends come to his rescue. Skating on a backyard pond (or on a river!) – wow – much more romantic than under the lights at the local shopping mall.

    Liked by 1 person

    • thehomeplaceweb says:

      Thanks Dave…..my mom does have a unique style of folkart. Yes, I remember that scene when Harry Bailey falls through the ice! One of these days I’ll get my own rink….not this year though…..our weather has been too weird……it’s minus 31 tonight, not sure what that is in Fahrenheit, but by the weekend we are supposed to warm up and have rain!

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  2. lindasschaub says:

    I enjoyed that Joan and I just went looking for my blog post to share with you about Saturday afternoons at the ice arena in Oakville. I never did much more but get on those skates as I was afraid I’d fall. But we enjoyed our Winter sports didn’t we? Tobogganing too – I meant to add that in yesterday’s post and forgot. I like your Mom’s picture of the skaters. It reminds me of our neighbor across the street – they had four kids and he built a skating rink in the backyard every year for them. They had a house with no basement so I think the parents were glad to have them out of the house and in the backyard where they could keep an eye on them. Funny we both wrote about kids and outdoor activities – how good it would be for kids to embrace the Winter sports, as well as the Winter activities and get away from their devices Do you think that will every happen? Did you use that cocoa powder for your brownies too? I’ll bet it was worth every penny for this indulgence!

    Liked by 1 person

    • thehomeplaceweb says:

      The family that had the rink behind me moved down the street and I think their dad still builds the a rink, but otherwise I never see any kids playing outside winter or summer. I guess they must be happy with their electronic devices but you’d think they’d get sick of being cooped up inside all day. I wonder if they even go outside for recess anymore? I didn’t use the cocoa powder for the brownies, just a low-fat but still good box mix. I tried using the French cocoa for a batch of Xmas cookies and even cut back on the amount as I knew how rich it was, but they were still way too chocolatey. But it is good for hot chocolate, with a teaspoon worth just 20 calories and a teaspoon of sugar and 2% milk, it’s a fairly low cal treat. I would have some when I came in from my afternoon walk, but I haven’t walked for two weeks now and miss it. Yesterday, I had a hard time keeping the house (downstairs level) warm as the furnace just could not keep up. I have hot water heat rads. Tonight while still below freezing doesn’t see as bad, but the air in my house is now so dry, it’s hard to breath! Can’t wait for the weekend when I can turn it down.

      Liked by 1 person

      • lindasschaub says:

        Hi Joan – the chocolate powder does sound like a treat – I don’t have hot chocolate too much, so I just buy it by the box with individual packagse, not even the canister which is easier and less messy. What I really enjoy is those Hills Brothers Cappucino hot drinks. You don’t get too much in the canister though, and you use four teaspoons per cup and it’s a small canister. I bought three of them to enjoy over the Winter, but they were so good that I ended up using them all over the holidays. (With the cookies … now that I started on sweets again, I couldn’t resist.) When I went through my mom’s recipes to do the blog post at Christmas about Christmas baking, I found a recipe for the same type of powdered cappucino. I am thinking about getting the ingredients together and making it – if you want I can send it to you – just a few ingredients. Just add boiling water. My mom also used to make up Friendship Tea. It was instant tea and orange tang mixed together with some other ingredients like cinnamon – smelled heavenly when you drank it after adding boiling hot water. I just run the water in the tap sometimes and it is hot enough for me. Our neighbor across the street used to have rads and I remember her saying the same thing and she would run water in the bathtub to add moisture to the air. We did that too when it got very cold in the house. Run water or shower and let the water sit in the tub, drain and add more hot water – but just having water in the tub helps. Also boiling pots of water on the stove helped. I have a high efficiency furnace but it was supposed to be efficient, cheaper and warmer – I can’t say that it is any of those things, but when I got a new furnace/air conditioner, that was recommended for a new furnace so got it. I worry all the time that blowing snow will go into the intake pipe and cause a blockage and carbon monoxide problem. I have a CO2 detector, but still worry. I adjust the humidifier but they recommend keeping it at 35% when the weather is a “normal Winter” – I did that and the windows were running with moisture, so that was the first and last time to do that. I do 25% I am always tweaking it based on outside temps to try to keep it warmer in here. On Wednesday morning, one of our large natural gas providers had a big fire at one of their stations … so, even though I don’t have Consumers Power, all homeowners/businesses who had Consumers or DTE Energy (me) were asked to put their furnace to 65 degrees if in the house, 62 if outside the house for 5 or more hours. I keep my furnace set at 73 and it is not all that warm in here – I am in my PJs which are polarfleece and have a teeshirt on underneath and am not sweating, but I was not going to turn it down and risk having my pipes freeze. It was voluntary until midnight last night. Some large auto plants shut down operations for the day (GM) and Ford lowered the heat in their plants, but stayed operational. I went for a walk last Saturday and I hope to go tomorrow, even to the Park near my home, but no squirrel experience there, as it will be warmer, and it will be warmer Saturday afternoon (we’re getting rain in the afternoon, but they say since the ground is so cold, it will bring black ice), so if a walk happens, it is tomorrow morning, and likely not Sunday. Not happy, but not going to risk falling either … and not going to take the car as the streets were still slippery as they couldn’t salt properly. I want to get more gas as I’m down a little below 3/4s of a tank – I worry if we have bad weather and I can’t get out that getting to a 1/2 tank in very cold weather could be bad for the car, but there was a huge water main break right in front of my gas station – they closed off the main street because the water turned to ice immediately and was treacherous – still not fixed and been almost two days. It is much better temp wise, but too cold for them to dig. I hope the Groundhog does not see his shadow … it is a good reason to do a blog post as I’ll run out of topics right now with no walking or photos … my blogiversary is 02/11 and there is Valentine’s Day so there are two topics too – whew!

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      • thehomeplaceweb says:

        The Homemade Cappucino sounds interesting…..if you decide to make it, then send me the recipe. My mom buys the Tim Horton’s powdered mix but it’s so sweet I can’t drink in. One more day and we should be out of the deep-freeze thank god. I think if you turned your thermostat down to 62 or 65 you would have frozen pipes! I had my main floor one set to 75 and it was barely reaching 70, and the basement was 55. I only have one small rad down there, so I will have to get some kind of electric heater to supplement it if this continues, except I haven’t been out anywhere all week, except to the library and the grocery store and my mom’s. We have been watching re-reruns of Downton Abbey, so that’s what I will be blogging on next. I tried to draft out some notes on the murder mystery this week as I was stuck inside, but it’s a lot harder than I thought, and not half as much fun as blogging! I guess I’m not motivated to write a whole book. I will be interested to read about your blogiversary.

        Liked by 1 person

      • lindasschaub says:

        I am horribly late getting here and apologize for the late reply. We were busy at work this week and my boss asked if I could work on the invoices today, so did that and it cut a swatch into my day, then he called me for an hour after he left the office. He e-mailed the invoices and a person had a question, so he asked if I could check his question – that was another 1/2 hour – I had intended to write about Groundhog Day so good thing I didn’t have a long post that I wanted to write. I have never seen Downton Abbey – I no longer have cable … I cancelled it in 2010, shortly after my mom passed away. I will learn about Downton Abbey from your blog post as you are always very comprehensive. We had a nice day today, not awfully cold, but it was dangerous walking – ice and slippery on the sidewalks as we had that snow then the freezing rain on Monday night – the very cold temps made it treacherous and I didn’t want to drive it in either to walk at the Park as they had not salted due to the cold temps as salt doesn’t work then. How frustrating for both of our walking regimens. I will be sure to give you the recipe – I had hoped to get to the grocery store after we have this warm-up over the next few days and hope the ice/snow melt a little and I can get the supplies. I have both the cappuccino and the friendship tea typed up and can e-mail or cut-and-paste it hear – neither is very long. The Hills Bros. cappucinos are not too sweet to me, even the English coffee, and I don’t like too much sweet either. Every year I buy green tea and try to get it into me, and I’ll do it for a month, then lag behind. I’ve never liked green tea and only drink it for the health benefit. I even got the peppermint green tea, thinking it would be a draw, but it’s not. Oh well. I’d better start getting some ideas together for my blogiversary – I did a big acknowledgement last year to celebrate and that was when I first began using tags. I waited five years to try “tags” out!

        Liked by 1 person

      • thehomeplaceweb says:

        Tags are supposed to increase traffic, but the first year I didn’t use them either….I didn’t even know they existed. If you are busy Linda, and you sound busy the recipes can wait! I walked yesterday and today and it felt good, balmy like today, yesterday was a bit icey but I was careful. It felt good to be outside again.

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      • lindasschaub says:

        We are so alike Joan – I could not pass up that balmy weather and was very careful – it was easier in the neighborhood to walk on the street. If I was not worried about the squirrels, I would have skipped the Park as they never clear the snow and knew it might be bad. We have rain and balmy weather today as well – all the snow and ice is gone and we get an ice storm tomorrow night – 1/2 inch of ice. Hate hearing that after it cleared up so nicely. I have the recipes and will cut-and-paste them … one of the other bloggers mentioned going somewhere on vacation with a decadent cappucino she enjoyed – she is young and in grad school and her/husband live not far from San Francisco and they are always trying places to eat, different bakeries and coffee bars. So I mentioned this and sent her the recipes … but truthfully, most people now, and probably all young people have a Keurig for coffee, or coffeemaker. I still use instant coffee (Nescafe Dark Roast – love it … tastes fresh brewed to me). Also, I am not a tea drinker, but liked this Friendship Tea. I’m not sure that you can buy instant tea anymore – its been ages since my mom had made it … here are the recipes and tell me if you think people would be making this:

        If it doesn’t display correctly I’ll e-mail them to you as a Word document, okay?

        FRIENDSHIP TEA

        Ingredients:
        2 cups instant orange drink mix (we used Tang)
        1 cup instant unflavored tea
        1 cup sugar
        6 tablespoons sugar-sweetened lemonade mix
        1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
        1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

        Directions:
        Combine all ingredients; mix well. Store in an airtight container. Makes 36 servings.
        To serve, add 2 tablespoons of the mix to 3/4 cup boiling water; stir.
        We used to have cinnamon sticks and use them as a stir stick. I used to take this to work and the whole kitchen would smell of this fragrant drink.
        ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
        CAPPUCCINO MIX
        Ingredients:
        1 cup powdered instant non-dairy creamer
        1 cup unsweetened cocoa
        2/3 cup of instant coffee granules
        1/2 cup sugar
        1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
        1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

        Directions:
        Put all ingredients in an airtight container, shake well to mix all ingredients. Makes 30 cups.
        To serve, place 1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon of the mix in a cup, add 1 cup boiling water.
        Stir well. Top with whipped cream if desired.
        Mixture will keep several months in an air-tight container.

        Liked by 1 person

      • thehomeplaceweb says:

        It still might be worthwhile posting the recipes. My mother still uses instant Coffee Maxwell House, and hot water from the tap – then she adds a teaspoon of Tim Horton’s Vanilla Cappucino Mix Powder to sweeten it. So I could borrow some of her instant coffee to try it out. I’ll check if the store has powdered milk, as I don’t like non-dairy creamer, but the rest is simple. I have a Keurig coffeemaker which I seldom use, as well as the regular drip coffeemaker which I make every morning. The Keurig is nice if you want to offer someone a flavoured coffee, but the choices are slim for me as I can only drink decaf. and I also wonder about all those fake chemical ingredients in those pods. I like to know what I’m eating or drinking, and the simpler the better. As for the friendship tea, I will check the next time I go to the grocery store to see if you can still get orange crystals? Do they still make Tang? I’ll check it out! I managed to get my walk in before 2pm when it started raining, so that’s 3 days in a row now. Hate to see the ice come back mid-week…..

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      • lindasschaub says:

        I used the Maxwell House for years, and then they only sold it in the smallest bottle for some reason. It was not only small, but a lightweight plastic and top heavy. Knocked it over twice and decided I wanted a glass bottle in a larger size. I like the Nescafe and I just use tap water and I find that is warm enough and so no need to boil water. I like mixing the sweet powder in there, but I often use powdered creamer. I don’t know if they still make Tang – we always had it here at the house in the Winter in case the weather was bad and ran out of OJ or oranges. I can’t recall seeing instant tea though. I wonder if you could make the friendship tea with lemonade crystals? I am glad I got the errands done today as they say freezing fog/black ice late tonight – likely tomorrow’s walk won’t happen and the ice will mess up how many days as well. We sure were enjoying all that clear weather in December and early January Joan. Sigh.

        Liked by 1 person

      • thehomeplaceweb says:

        I’ll check it out next time I am at the grocery store……actually now that I think of it my mom uses Nescafe, but they are small jars. I think we are just cold tomorrow, luckily as I have errands to run, and freezing rain on Wed. Ugh….sick of winter!

        Liked by 1 person

      • lindasschaub says:

        That Nescafe does have some punch to it. I was actually happy I switched after Maxwell House had those new bottles … they were top heavy due to their shape, but a lightweight bottle and forever falling over. The Nescafe smells and tastes like dark roast coffee. They have decaf too. The weather is horrid for tonight here and they say up to 1/4 inch of freezing ice on the wires. I walked a little in the neighborhood but that was it. I’m sick of Winter too and we were actually lucky and had that 6 weeks of just cold, but no snow/ice.

        Liked by 1 person

    • thehomeplaceweb says:

      Thanks Linda……I got her blog notice a few days ago, but it sounds like she is combining the Willard newsletter with the blog, which I already get regularly. That seems sensible, as she is working on a new book (I read her last 3 illustrated journal books and they were lovely), about her trip to England/Wales/Ireland, and probably doesn’t have time to keep them both up to date. We know how time-consuming one blog can be!

      Liked by 1 person

      • lindasschaub says:

        That’s right Joan – I just got the Willard today in my e-mail and I am going to sign up for the blog (I thought I did before?) I like her illustrations – her home always looks so cozy doesn’t it? I don’t know how she does all those things … painting, writing, blogging, cooking and traveling … gardening too, if she is the one that does the gardening. We sure do know how time-consuming it is.

        Liked by 1 person

      • thehomeplaceweb says:

        She’s almost 70 now but still seems to have lots of energy. I think she has several creative assistants in her studio/business, and Joe probably does the gardening! I was pretty impressed in the Xmas blog that he made the evergreen wreaths for the front doors from scratch. He seems like a handy guy to have around. Her books can be hard to find in Canada, but I just got the 30th anniversary revised edition of her first cookbook Heart of the Home, from the library today, so will enjoy looking at the recipes on a day like today when it is too icy and miserable to go out!

        Liked by 1 person

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