Bumping Along

Photo by Halie Solea

It’s so cold outside that the steam on the inside of my window is forming into thin sheets of ice. Looking at the glassy, warped house next door, I can’t help but think about the time when I looked forward to these painfully cold days. On days like today, this girl (who’s sitting here with all her blankets, cozy sweaters, and hot teas) used to actually look forward to … wait for it, going outside.

And how could that possibly be? The answer is ice skating.

When people typically think of the Finger Lakes, they usually think about swimming, fishing, boating – you name it! But what is often forgotten or unknown by those who only vacation there is that some of those lakes, as well as the hundreds of streams and ponds in the area, freeze over. Granted, Seneca Lake is too big to really ice up, but the smaller ones like Canandaigua and Honeoye get some great thick ice in many spots. People can even ice fish if they’re willing to stay out in the cold for that long.

But the real prize for a freezing cold day is the chance to break out skates.

Now, I’m typically a cautious person. I try to make sure that my body goes exactly where I intend it to, with a generally high awareness of extremities. However, ice skates tend to screw up that notion. When the chance finally arose to go out on the ice, I was the one that concentrated so hard on not falling that it would be halfway through the trip before I was successfully moving around at any normal rate. It’s not that I was afraid of getting hurt, per se, just that I would really rather not have to try and get up again. Those spikes on the front of the skates amount to nothing but broken promises.

So, as I slothed around with my gloves hands out in front of me, whoever I happened to be with usually zipped a few circles around me. I grew up with both hockey players and general daredevils with roller blades, but against them I had a secret weapon: not a single drop of experience with Zamboni-ed ice and smooth surfaces. Funny enough, there’s not much of a maintenance crew for lake ice, so it tends to be bumpier and often has little sticks or stones stuck in it. Totally mild obstacles for someone going as slow as, well, me, but for any kid with a past on glassy ice, a stick in the works is enough to send them rear over teakettle, so to speak.

Mistakes made once or twice on their part was enough to make me feel better about myself, so I was usually quite content to sip the required hot chocolate afterwards while still in their presence. When outside on the Finger Lakes, they were on my kind of icy turf.

Halie Solea 2013By Halie Solea

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