First Skates

Where the road met the yard there was a 10 foot long strip of ice that used to form when the water pooled and froze. It was 3 feet wide at its widest.  It was hard and perfect. A couple feet away in the grass, a low spot collected water and froze. It was also good for skating.  It was about 6 feet in diameter but little tufts of grass would stick up and snag on your skates.

Both patches of ice were responsible for dreams…

I’d lace up my racing skates (my first pair) and stomp out through the yard onto the ice.  With total abandonment I’d sprint back and forth, skating for what seemed to be hours.  The skates were too big.  It didn’t matter. 

With ankles bent I’d start at one end of the ice and sprint to the other end and try my best to do a hockey stop.  Sometimes I’d spin, other time I’d shave ice, sometimes I’d fall.  I was afraid of falling because I feared the long blades of the racing skates would impale me.  I fell anyway and got up again.  The constant up and down caused the wrinkles in the leather to chafe through my two pairs of socks. It burned. 

Mom would call me in for dinner as the streetlights were all that lit my skating practice.  I would stumble back through the snow and into the house.  My ankles hurt-badly.   At the base of my foot, where the achilles tendon ties into the heel there would be a red spot the size of a quarter.  It was raw and hypersensitive, but this was a badge of honor.  This was ice skating, speed skating, hockey, all rolled together in my head and heart.  

I wouldn’t trade it for the world….

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