Is it Normal?
Now I know, it might not seem a stretch at all for most Canadians to consider ice skating outside an enjoyable past time. In Edmonton, where we now live, many were most likely born with ice skates on their feet, dreams of shiny, silver cups dancing in their heads.
Having been born and raised in Vancouver however, I guess you could say I’ve not had the normal Canadian winter experience. When it snows all hell breaks loose and when it rains after that, it’s far, far worse. The opposite is also true in Vancouver in winter. In fact, I remember many a day in February rollerblading along the seawall near Stanley Park in shorts, basking in double digit temperatures.
As far as real winter goes then, born and bred Vancouverites don’t get it. But because most Vancouverites have come from other parts of the country, they know how to deal with the frigid cold winter and find ways to make the time more bearable. So I’m taking my cue from them.
Ice Skating – OUTSIDE!!
I can seriously only think of a handful of times that ice skating outside, aside from the hell that is the road conditions most winters in YVR, was even possible. In fact, a story from a few years back about Trout Lake, an inner city spit of a lake open for ice skating the first time in 20 years still comes to mind when I think of going ice skating outside here in the City of Champions.
I think most Edmontonians would agree (I’ve not been graced with this title yet although after experiencing my first true Canadian winter maybe there’s some sort of ceremony) that ice skating is pretty much second nature to them. I mean, Gretzky, am I right? Even though Edmonton hasn’t won a Stanley Cup in a bazillion years, the city’s people are hopeful, and it shows at the outdoor rinks. Those who dare to put on the goalie equipment attract all the dreamers, desperate to try their real moves on a real goaltender, the noise of the crowd in their heads to Shoot! Score!
It is not front of mind to think of ice skating as an outdoor activity but I’m getting there. A few weeks back it had been too freakin’ cold here if you didn’t know, and while -20C to -40C seems normal for weeks at at time, when it’s that cold, people just don’t go outside. So we were stuck indoors watching Netflix’s Life Below Zero a show that focuses on the hardiest or craziest of people who not only bear the Alaskan winter but revel in it. I suppose it helped us feel better about our decision to move to Edmonton.
And just like that, the weather changed to much more favourable skating conditions, anything below about -15C is just too cold for OLM, so the fam got skates!
And then, it got warm again. And cold again. And then warm again. I’m not sure this makes for good ice conditions.
We ventured over to Hawrelak Park anyway to break in the skates and although signs warned that the ice was rough, there were people skating so we laced up too.
The Sound of Ice Music
The sound of ice cracking is probably one of the most disturbing sounds I’ve ever experienced, aside from those cries in the middle of the night, many moons ago. We lasted about ten minutes once we realized that the sounds we were hearing were in fact, the ice cracking. I know that the ice was at least a 100 feet thick so I don’t think we were in imminent danger but I truly felt sick once I realized that’s what it was.
I’ve heard a rumor now though that the worst of winter is behind us. Some referred to this time of year as the Big Thaw although I can’t find many references to it on the net. But I did find out that there have already been 5700 potholes filled, apparently a fact of life living here and also a sign that the City is gearing up for Spring. I’m hopeful though, that we can lace up again and test our blades on some smoother ice and enjoy some more skating while the freezing temperatures last. Did I just wish for winter to stick around? Oh wait, it won’t be long before it’s back anyway.
That’s about the end of July, no?