One thing you don’t often find in the middle of California is a frozen pond. Under normal circumstances, when the earth isn’t falling apart, we get cold snaps and hard freezes, but in the areas that do have lakes or ponds (few and far between, where I live) the ice doesn’t freeze more than an inch or so, and usually daytime temperatures are enough to warm things up again. What I’m saying is, you have to drive a ways to indoor ice rink if you want to go skating, so most of us don’t get the chance to do it very often (and because of this, even fewer are any good). This year some local business got together and funded a local farmer to build a little rink on some land on the outskirts of town.
As much as I wanted to go, and especially, to take Isobel ice skating for the first time, this was, like so many other things, just not in the cards for us this year. Pregnant ladies should not be subjecting themselves to falls, and neither should post-shoulder-surgery patients. I’d drive by and watch families of skaters, longingly, as they drifted around the rink, unsteady and hugging the side or with arms out for support. Anthony and I hoped the rink would be enough of a hit for it to return next year, hopefully when one of us was in well enough shape to take Isobel.
Christmas came and went and days later we made plans to see my friends Chris and Jenn who were in town visiting for the holidays. They offered to take Isobel on the rink since they knew we wouldn’t be able. Chris grew up in the Midwest so ice skating was second nature to him. Jenn lived there for several years and I assumed she was thoroughly acquainted with it, also. We made plans to meet on New Year’s Day.
Chris and Jenn generously bought Isobel’s pass and fitted her for ice skates. Chris complained about shoe quality while he helped her tie her shoes. “You must be pretty good at skating, right, after all that time in the Midwest?” I asked.
“Um, I think I’ve been… three times?”
Isobel started to protest. She was extremely hesitant at trying new physical things, just like I was at that age, and she said she’d go only if I went. I told her that was impossible, but we convinced her to get on the ice if I held her hand from the other side. It was quite a warm day for December, as it has been this whole freakish winter, and Isobel was too hot to wear her jacket even before she got on the ice.
People ambled around the ice around us as we convinced Isobel to step on the rink. Chris and Jenn held her at times, and she had her turn pushing around buckets and holding onto the PVC-pipe brace. Chris out-skated everyone the moment he stepped on the ice without even trying. Isobel liked skating, but she was much more enthralled by sitting on the sidelines and creating little snowpeople out of the ice slush Chris collected for her.
Before our skating session ended, Chris took advantage of the emptying rink to practice a few jumps. Considering the fact that most people would clutch the side for dear life while skating, the whole rink was impressed. Before we left for home, Chris picked Isobel up and flew around the rink at a brisk pace. She told me it felt like flying, and of all the skating, I’m sure it was her favorite.