I live about a hundred yards from the house where my family moved when I was three. At the center of the property is a large, spring-fed pond that nearly a hundred years ago was dammed to soak the timber for the Cathedral. For many years after, this pond was the town's winter skating rink.
However, the shift in climate and the constantly running water means that in all the time I have lived here, it has not been safe to skate on the pond. My grandfather, whose job it was as a boy to check the ice on his local skating pond outside Chicago, shut this pond down and built a safer, outdoor skating rink where we all currently enjoy our hockey season.
Last weekend, J flew home from Utila. The temps had not gone above the teens for the past twelve days so after Max's early game he and Sampson set out with his drill to test the ice. My grandfather, now almost 93, drove by to see what he was up to and assured him that 4-6 inches was safe for backyard skating. What followed is one of the best winter days we have ever had. Friends and kids arrived at the house all day. Gear bags exploded on the grass. I tied a dozen skates at least a dozen times. Max braved his first day out of goalie pads. Hot chocolate and soup bubbled and flowed. The ice held, singing its unique pond hockey accoustic twangs. Sampson was in his puck-stealing, kid-chasing glory. Youth hockey boys got back from their early NJ game, and some left to head up to the home rink for their late games, and came back to play more. Little girls alternated between skating on the side rink and indoor Valentine creations. Baby Harper snoozed, and the big boys played hockey until J brought out the construction lights. As darkness fell, the parents shivered outside in shifts, sipping hot soup and cold beer.
By Monday, it was raining, and yesterday, a warm wind from the south melted the last of the ice and whipped the water into waves.
It was a day we may never have again; one which we won't soon forget.
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