Ice skating on the pond was something my mother enjoyed doing. We had a large family and could not afford expensive forms of entertainment so ice skating became one “treat” we looked forward to getting. Since my parents took in foster children, there were always ways to find gear for them so we could go as a large group. Finding used skates and having them ready in a box in the garage was something we did every year. You never knew who was going to be living with us next or what size they would need but usually you could make due with what we had.
Thus, every winter, we would find those skates, bundle up in warm clothing, layer our bodies to protect ourselves from the cold, gather our skates, climb into our van and head over to the pond. It was wonderful to get there early. It was so peaceful to be in the middle of nowhere, sun rising, frost all around, and with the utter stillness of nature. It was a calming feeling.
Once out on the pond, you could hear the blades against the solid ice, gliding over imperfections, wind blowing at your face and you felt free. It was an escape from your school troubles or your fight with your sibling. It was a place where you could pretend you were in the Olympics or performing in front of a large crowd. That is of course, until you fell. Falling was something we did often.
My mother had endless amounts of energy. With a large skating crew, she had to worry about Johnny falling through a thinner piece of ice or Sarah losing her mittens down a hole. She had to tend to bruised up bottoms and the little one’s cries for help. But she did this skating with us and always with a smile. Skating was peaceful for her too. I think that she could pretend she was alone on that large pond if we were far enough away she couldn’t hear us.
Skating on the pond became a bonding experience for all of us too. It became a place we could learn to work as a team. If one kid was too tired to continue, two other kids would hold their hand and pull them across the ice. If a smaller kid needed to rest, an older kid would accompany them back to the van. It was just something we did. We took turns warming up and racing back out onto the ice.
That pond was more to us than a skating place. It was like a canvas to an artist. It was a clean slate where each time we could make a new adventure. We spent hours creating our family fun there. On that pond, you had no worries and you had no troubles. It was just you and your skates, the pond and surrounding woods. For us, this was about family, our family.