Friday, 10 January 2014

Ice Fields

Ice storm are new to me. I never experienced anything like it growing up in the west, and the two winters I spent in Toronto were unimaginably mild - rainy but not freezing-rainy. What is most frustrating about these storms, at least when they haven't knocked out power or done major damage to house, car or body, is how sedentary they make a person. It's not pleasant being surrounded by nothing but slippery surfaces for miles on end. When you do venture out, especially in uncleared rural places, you walk in a slow Mike Duffy fashion, not briskly and upright. The ground becomes unfriendly, a rib-breaking menace.

I asked around in my community to see if anyone knew of anywhere that pickup hockey was played. With all of the lakes around, I thought surely someone had been clearing off the ice and taking advantage of a free rink. But it seems that out here, it's snowmobiling or hunting that occupies free time. Pond hockey is quaint, something hip city people might do in a post-ironic way. I thought about smashing the ax into the creek behind my house to see if it would hold, but then I decided to spare myself the long slow shuffle down to the property line. I laced up my skates and cautiously set out on the rolling surface of the hay fields instead.

I suspected that it would be too coarse and full of weak spots, so I snowplowed along, knees tight, but it was almost as gentle as the leveled, zambonied surfaces of public recreation facilities and just as solid. I skated across the field, skipping over the lines and swerving past the snowy patches, marveling at the fact that this was possible. It felt like a strange dream, from which you wake up and think, “that would be great, if only the physical world could accommodate it”. I wandered and found patches that were especially clear, and I circled for a while before moving on. Toward the tree line I hovered for a while on a long, slightly sloped stretch, rushing up and then gliding down. By then the afternoon sun had broken through the cloud cover and was glaring up from the fields. Now it was exhilarating and pretty.

Eventually blisters and sore ankles got the better of me and I packed it in. The next day it warmed up and began to melt, and soon we will have a sloppy mess. It's probably for the best.

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