penny in a castle

A digital chapbook.

The skating rink

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Today I opened the twentieth door in my advent calendar and found…a skating rink.

In Robert Munch’s book Just One Goal, a little girl is so desperate to have a skating rink on her patch of the river that she takes a spoon of water and builds her own. Drop by drop. Spoonful by spoonful.

It’s a lot of work to build a rink though.

Last year’s winter was harsh – but perfect for making ice.  By Christmas it had already been cold enough that local outdoor rinks were freezing.  Our family was out doing some last minute grocery shopping.  My husband ran into a friend. He is always running into people he knows – between his work and his volunteering, I’m convinced he knows half the town.  I’ve learned to be patient – but he needs to learn to collect better gossip…

When he returned he told me that his friend was building a rink in his back yard.  “We need to do that,” he said.  “A rink is a lot of work. Are you going to go out and water it at 3 am?” I asked.  I got shivery just thinking about it. “Nah, it’s so cold, it’ll be easy!”  This is one of my husband’s other talents – the creative ability to imagine an idea and try to make it so.  On our return home, he immediately started bustling around, trampling snow, building up snow walls, laying a tarp down.  The first forays were a little less successful – all the water leaked out, the hose froze.  “You might want to do some research,” I suggested.  “Why, how hard can it be? It’s just freezing water,” replied my husband.

But day by day, the rink came together.  By my daughter’s birthday, it was big enough to have 10 kids skating in a very tight circle on it without giving each other a concussion (although using hockey sticks was maybe not a great idea).  And as the winter grew longer, the size of the rink grew and grew again until it was double the originally planned size.

I had my worries in the spring – I thought that the basement might flood with all the water melting at once. But it never did.  In the end, it was the best thing we had all winter – it kept both my husband and children occupied with a fun fitness project.

Little did I know that small ambitions can lead to bigger things.

This year, after hearing tales of other friends’ rinks, my husband made greater plans.  He went out to the hardware store and bought wood to make boards.  He enlisted the help of my father-in-law, who helped him plan and construct the shape of it (I am so grateful for his help – my husband could not have done it without him).  It now takes up the whole of the back yard.

This winter though has been milder.  There hasn’t been as much snow.  And the wind and the temperature have been kinder.  That hasn’t deterred my husband though, who has watched the weather report attentively for fast freezes and dutifully watered the rink over and over again.

Today, he had a chance to savour the fruits of his labour. The ice was a perfect blue reflecting the bowl of the sky above it.  The three kids strapped on their helmets and skates. They have already spent hours out there, laughing, sliding and racing.

Many of the best Christmas presents don’t fit under the tree. They are hand-made and bring us memories that last a life time. They are gifts of time and of the heart.  The skating rink my husband (and father-in-law) have created for us is one of these.

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Written by pennyinacastle

December 21, 2014 at 3:47 am

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