Contrary to folklore, kids in far northern Wisconsin are not born with skates on their feet. But the small community of Eagle River, where I grew up, did a lot to foster a love of ice skating. Every Thursday evening during the winter, we could ride a school bus from the information center downtown to what we called the Jack O’Lantern, a large domed skating rink on the edge of town where the local hockey team played. The ride there, two hours of skating, plus the ride back to town, cost a total of a quarter. I was there every week. There was a warming room at the rink, where a small wood stove did its best to warm skaters during breaks, but it wasn’t very effective and by the time two hours were over, my toes were so cold I didn’t want to move them to even take off my skates. Still wearing my skates, I rode the bus back to the information center in town and skated down the hard snow-packed streets four blocks to my house. Probably not good for keeping the runners on my skates sharp, but it seemed less troublesome than taking off my skates before I got on the bus. The local elementary school flooded their large playground during the winter to make two skating rinks. The larger was for kids who wanted to practice hockey. The other, for those of us who liked figure skating. Lots of days I’d come home after school and walk two blocks to meet my friends and skate. The area was well lit so even though it got dark early in the winter, we’d stay until suppertime. I still love ice skating and bought new skates about ten years ago, though I’ve only used them a handful of times over the past several years. Our son suggested our family go ice skating soon but I reluctantly decided it was probably time for me to give it up. I brought my skates out to give them away and a strange thing happened. I realized I still want to skate, even if only once or twice more. I’m not giving them away quite yet. Maybe next year I will..
Top photo courtesy 822640 at Pixabay.com