Memoir Mondays #2- Now and Then Special Place

1:05 PM Posted In , , Edit This 5 Comments »

It was my second home, I could see the large grey Quonset shaped building from my bedroom window, the shingles needed replacing and a new paint job inside and out, the back door didn't really close or lock. It was not the prettiest building in the town, but when winter season came the town gathered nightly to drink coffee, visit and watch some hockey. Small towns in Saskatchewan are fueled by hockey, everyone ate, drank and slept hockey, everyone except for me.

I was a figure skater.
I raced through my backyard everyday after school with my skate bag bouncing on the back of my legs as I ran to public skating on my lesson.s When I started skating there were at least 10 older girls who I looked up to and many other my age who I skated with. They quickly all quit to play girls hockey and it was Rachelle and I then just me...I wouldn't be trading in my pick and skirts for a stick and a puck. I was often the only figure skaters at public skating. It was dangerous avoiding pucks from the shiny game on the other side and as the game went on I had less and less ice.

Our rink had natural ice, it was hard and looked like glass, still wet from the Zamboni. I would skate over to the music room and play the newest cd I had bought. Stroking around the boards marked up fro pucks and age, the birds flew from rafter to rafter near the ceiling. The cold winter wind blew through the windows on the side. My hair flying behind me as I picked up speed. The sounds of my blades cutting into the ice was hypnotic and rhythmic. Seat would form on my forehead and neck and make my hair curly. I would breath in deep , the smell of the ice- my favorite smell, truly indescribable.

This old barn had so much character and brought me so much joy growing up. It was were I spent most of my free time in winter- a rink rat I called myself. It was falling apart as time went on, not beg enough for a tournament and natural ice made our season very short. The town finally raised enough money an now have a huge multi million dollar complex for skating curling, dance, bowling, the library etc. They turned the old rink into a horse riding arena. My skating career was done by the time they built the new rink but I taught other how to skate and have been to a few public skates. It is beautiful, great ice, well lit, better sound system but it is missing that smell...

Now when I look out my old bedroom window and see horses coming in and out of it I feel all these memories and moments of time spent in their on the ice. As I grew I learned many lessons inside those walls on and off the ice. I learned grace and power on the ice through my skating lessons. It is a passion that still burns inside me today, although I don't practice anymore whenever I get back on the ice that fire burns inside me to jump and spin. I founded many friendships, Rachelle and I spent many Monday and Thursday afternoons skating round and round together telling each other the highs and lows of our day, the ice was cathartic and the connection we built was strong. Many of my coaches were great role models and also good friends that I could go and talk to. The younger skaters that I taught all looked up to me on and off the ice and I felt pride at the end of the season when those who could not stand on their own where now the fastest in my group. I also made friendships off the ice with the caretakers. I was the official hot chocolate taster, and new 5cent candy eater. They were kind and generous to open the rink early when competition was getting close and always warned me about the cracks in the ice when March came around. I sometime had to stand up for myself and the use of the ice to those who thought figure skating was a waste of precious ice time. It was not always easy, but I knew in my heart that it was important to me and no one was going to take that away.

Growing up in a small town with the rink in my backyard and with my hockey loving dad and brothers it was no question that I was going to skate and that the rink would be a big part of my life. I was always the girly-girl so figure skating was natural for me before we had a dance club in Aberdeen. Today the rink in the winter is still a big part of my life as I teach skating and when I'm off watching Justin play hockey. Aberdeen's rink holds a special place in my heart and it holds a lot of special memories for many of the people that live in the town. No matter how amazing our new rink is with all its technology and glamour, the old cold barn behind my house will forever be the best rink ever.


debrennersmith said...

Wonderful description of your experience of the rink and the relationships.

Kevin said...

That is great that skating still has a special place in your life and that it has remained with you all of these years.
It's so easy to lose something like that and be left with only memories.


BK said...

It's so wonderful to have this full memory of the love of skating. I loved what I could do on the ice but it was very limited. I loved reading about your passion for it. I can appreciate vicariously through you.

Stacey from Two Writing Teachers said...

Very cool. Thanks for sharing this... I never would've known!

GirlGriot said...

Ashley, this is wonderful. I remember the first posts of yours I read were about the skating teaching you were doing, but seeing this much more full picture of you as a skater is really fantastic. I could picture the quonset perfectly. I love that you note the difference in the smell of the ice between that old rink and the modern one. It's great that you've held onto the freedom, power and passion that skating gives you, that you're still sharing that with younger skaters! Thanks for sharing this story with us.