Another Hobby Blog

Friday, January 06, 2006

Remember, Water Freezes at 32 Degrees F.

On Friday, December 23, in Madison, Wisconsin, it was 46 F.

It was Bethieee's idea to bring our ice skates.
Wisconsin = cold + lakes = outdoor skating opportunity, right?
So we packed them. Three pair of skates took up nearly two full suitcases. I'm not quite sure where Bethieee managed to put her clothes.
Three pair of skates weighing, oh, let's say 5 pounds each. That's fifteen extra pounds to lug with us. But hey! how often do you get the chance to skate on a lake?

Our coach said he'd have our hides if we skated on a non-Zamboni'd surface. Do they Zamboni lakes? We were told that they did. We were skeptical, but we packed our skates.

We tried not to panic when our bags got lost between Chicago and Madison. Not only all of Bethieee's clothes except the ones she was wearing, not only all of Keithr's warm socks and warm clothes, not only all of the holiday gifts we'd brought, but all three pair of skates were in those bags. Don't worry, they'll be on the next flight...

They were. They woke me up with their arrival at my hotel room at 6:30 in the morning. As happy as I was to see them, I must admit that 6:30am comes much too early. Especially when you factor in the time change and realize that it's 4:30. I am not a morning person.

Friday was the day that we had set aside for skating on the lake. There were good reasons. Basically, the entire rest of our visit was packed with other things to do. Friday was Skating Day.

Friday was 46 degrees.

Have you ever skated on a sheet of ice that is actively melting beneath your feet?

It's an experience. I now understand and respect the phrase "hot-house skaters" meaning skaters carefully nurtured in an indoor ice rink like tomatoes grown in a hot-house, never experiencing the conditions of true wild growth which include lake skating on slush.

Slush. When you skate on Ice, there is an almost frictionless condition that occurs between the skate and the ice as the fine edge of the blade cuts in to the surface. This effortless, graceful gliding motion is what gives ice skating such an addictive appeal. Once you learn how to keep your balance, gliding on ice skates can feel almost like flying. It's wonderful.

Slush is not like that. Slush bunches up under your skates. Slush hides irregluarities in the ice. Slush is cold and wet and seeps into your clothing when you land on it. Slush is insidious. Skating on slush is like pedalling a bike with the brakes frozen shut. Skating on slush is like rollerblading through a swamp. Skating on slush is like trying to extricate yourself from underneath a full-grown Saint Bernard that has decided not to move. Skating on slush is a cumbersome, laborious, tedious experience.

Skating on slush is Not Graceful.

I leave it as an excercize to the reader to imagine the end result.

We did have a few almost graceful moments scattered randomly throughout the experience, though. Our photographer even managed to catch one!

It almost looks as if we know how to skate!

If you look closely, you can see the skates we are wearing. I'll give you a hint. They are Not the ones we carried with us from Seattle. It turns out that, as we feared, the lake does not get Zamboni'd. The skates are rentals. I never would have guessed they rented skates at frozen lakes. Go figure. One hour and 16 blisters later we handed our skates back to the rental counter and headed off for a cup of hot cider, wiser, more experienced, and sopping wet.


  • At Sun Jan 08, 08:22:00 AM PST, Anonymous Rox said…

    I hate to sound all Mother Hen here but.... where are your coats young ladies????


  • At Mon Jan 09, 01:17:00 AM PST, Blogger Paula said…

    hehehe, Zamboni'd, I love that word!
    We used to skate on the near by lake when I was a kid and I wish they would have Zamboni'd it. Very bumpy when the slush freezes.


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