“In skating over thin ice, our safety is in our speed.”

Monday means breakfast at the diner. My diner is a small place with only 12 or so booths and some stools at the counter. A few regulars were there and the owners are always at the front of the house doing whatever needs to be done. They greet all the regulars and stop at the booths to chat a bit. It wasn’t too busy when I first arrived but all the booths were taken by the time I left.

The morning is cold. Yesterday throughout the day and night we had torrential rain and late last night the wind began to roar. I imagined the pine trees bending and swaying with loud creaks of protest, and when I let Gracie out this morning, I noticed a few branches, smaller ones, had fallen in the backyard. My outside Christmas lights died around 8, and the back dog lights blinked on and off for a long while. For my neighbors’ sake, I kept hoping the lights would stop blinking. They did and the yard went dark. This morning I turned on the timer for the outside lights, and nothing tripped so I guess all is well.

When I was a kid, I didn’t know anyone who traveled during Christmas vacation, and I didn’t know anyone who skied. Both of those would have been far too expensive for our family and for my neighbors. We had sleds and ice skates, and they provided winter amusement. My friends and I would skate at the swamp or on the rink at the park. That rink was put up every winter and taken down in the spring. The small building at the rink had wooden planks for seats, and we’d put our shoes, tied together, underneath the planks. The building was always warmed by a pot-bellied stove. One man worked there, and he was in charge of keeping the stove going. The skating was free, provided for by the town. I’d skate until my feet hurt.

Sometimes my mother would give us bus fare and entrance money for the MDC rink over the line in Medford, the next town. We had to walk up-town to catch the bus as it was really to far to walk. On Saturdays and school vacations, the bus was filled with skaters. The MDC rink had two fenced-in skating circles and a building with lots of seating and a refreshment stand. We’d skate a while then take a break in the warmth of the building then go back outside for more skating. We’d be there most of the day. I remember taking off my skates and how strange my feet felt. It was as if they had forgotten how to walk. We’d buy a hot chocolate then go outside and wait for the bus. I remember standing on the sidewalk and looking down the street hoping to see it coming our way. We were cold and tired and more than ready to go home.

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12 Comments on ““In skating over thin ice, our safety is in our speed.””

  1. Caryn Says:

    Hi Kat,
    It poured rain here as well but I didn’t hear the wind. When I went to my usual Starbucks this morning I saw the electric company trucks behind the building cleaning up tree debris. My panicked thought was that the parking lot was so empty because Starbucks had no electricity and I would have no coffee! Fortunately, they did have electricity.

    We travelled for Christmas. We went to my Aunt and Uncle’s house in Stoneham. It was on the street behind the bowling alley. The Christmas table….no, make that tables were always groaning with massive amounts of food that my uncle would cook. Turkey, ham, Italian pasta dishes, meatballs, Polish kielbasa, huge trays of cold cuts, vegetables and stuffings, desserts of all kinds. It was a wonderland of holiday food. And CANDY!!! In dishes all over the house.

    I have never skated in a skating rink. Skating was done on the lake or on the brook in the back swamp. Sometimes we could skate on the pond in the cemetery but that was a tiny place. One winter we made a skating rink in the back yard.
    I have no idea what it is like to skate on a surface that doesn’t have cracks, stones, frozen snow, leaves or branches sticking out of it. Red Green once told a joke about playing hockey on the pond and watching one of the players do a triple salchow, double toe loop, back flip, split on the ice because he went out for a pass and caught his skate on a frozen weasel.
    I laughed so hard because it was totally true. πŸ˜€

    Enjoy the day.

    • katry Says:

      Hi Caryn,
      It was around 11 when I went to bed and that was when I heard the wind. It rattled the windows and sounded like a train.

      I didn’t know Stoneham still had a bowling alley though you could mean where it was, now a great sub and Italian place called Liberty Bell. I had a friend whose name I don’t remember who lived on the street behind the alleys.

      I think I’d have loved visiting your aunt and uncle. All that food sounds amazing, and I would have rolled home.

      Most times we’d skate at the free places, but when I was around the eight or ninth grade we’d go to the MDC rink and skate under the lights. It was fun, but we didn’t do it often because of the cost.

      The front part of the swamp was fairly clean ice with no branches while the back part was just small canals you sometimes had to get on your hands and knees to go through because of the overhanging trees. That was so interesting as the ice was glass-like clear and you could see all the stuff underneath. Sometimes we’d have bonfires just as it started to get dark. The swamp was about a ten minute walk from my house.

      Unbelievable! I would have fallen on the ground laughing!

      Have a great evening and stay warm!

  2. Birgit Says:

    Neither Christmas holidays nor skiing or skating, but I’m leaving my internet-connected cave for a few days. Back in 2014.
    Happy New Year!

  3. Bob Says:

    I never understood the attraction of skiing for Texans. In the late 1970s and early 80s I would fly my multibillionaire boss and his family, #40 on the Forbes richest American list, to Aspen where they spent the week skiing at their condo. Aspen Pitkin County Airport is one of the most dangerous airports in the world. Every year between Christmas and New Years the ramp would be full of corporate jet airplanes. I thought of those trips yesterday upon learning of his death Saturday night. Although I didn’t agree with his ultra Conservative politics, he did donate millions to medical research and other charities quietly such as Planned Parenthood. I never understood why Texans traveled in huge numbers to ski in Colorado. I think they missed out on the pleasure of shoveling the stuff from their driveways as kids.

    When I was living in NY I loved to ice skate on the duck pond in the little park across the street from my High School. When it wasn’t frozen we would take the subway to the New York City building at Flushing Meadow which contained a huge rink. It was a left over building from the 1939 World’s Fair. I never had the courage to skate at the rink in Rockefeller Center. How embarrassing it would be to fall down on my rear in front of hundreds of tourists who visited Rockefeller Center during the winter.

    • katry Says:

      It seems skiing for Texans is a wealthy man’s sport. Few can afford the plane fare to say nothing of a rental in Aspen at the height of the ski season. My brother-in-law, born and bred in Colorado, skis but only one of his kids do. The other two wouldn’t risk a broken leg as they got full scholarships to play soccer in college. I went skiing once, and that is plenty for me.

      I’m willing to bet that many, many people have fallen on their butts at Rockefeller Center. At least you did have options for skating in the city. Boston floods the Frog Pond on the Common for skating.

      • Bob Says:

        I was never into skiing because the only time I got to go Colorado or Utah was as the pilot. I wouldn’t be able to fly the plane home if I broke my leg. Since I am a klutz, that would be a good possibility πŸ™‚

      • katry Says:

        That would be my fate as well!

  4. olof1 Says:

    It would be fun to go to a diner like that but we don’t have them here. I remember that there was one in the village where we had our summer cottage but that was a long time ago.

    They used to flush water on a soccer field just beside where I lived every winter if it was cold enough, especially in february which is our coldest month. The older kids played hockey there and my older brother used to stand in the goal, this was before they started to use helmets. He was one of the regulars at the emergency every winter πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

    We went skating with our school every winter, to an ice hockey rink indoors, thankfully. I loved skating and we always brought hot cocoa in a thermos and a couple of cheese sandwiches. I think I remember that more than the skating πŸ™‚

    Have a great day!

    • katry Says:

      Here and there are old diners. I love to stop of I see one when I’m traveling. For dinner I get the meatloaf and mashed potatoes. It is always on every menu.

      They played hockey at the swamp as well. They’d throw us off the ice and put up nets but there had to be a lot of them before we’d listen and leave. I think professional hockey needs to be revamped and rules added. Too many guys are being slammed head first into the boards. Someone will be permanently paralyzed or even die if that isn’t monitored.

      I would have loved the cocoa!

      • olof1 Says:

        They actually split the soccer field in two parts, one for hockey and one for us that just feall over all the time πŸ™‚
        They have started to punish hockey players here that tackels people so they go head first into the boards. Mostky they aren’t allowed to play for several times after doing that and it actually works rather good.

      • katry Says:

        They need to do that here for the National Hockey League-suspend players based on the infraction.

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