My Own Private Skating Rink

Reader Contribution by Cam Mather
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Sunday was another Red Letter Day at Sunflower Farm!

We enjoyed lots of sunshine to charge up the batteries. I spent the morning in the forest cutting firewood in the morning. I skated on my own private skating rink in the afternoon.

The rink is awesome right now. I like to joke with Michelle that it’s worth $900 a day! Here’s how I figure this. The sun is up by 8 am and goes down after 5 pm. So this leaves 9 hours of daylight. The arena in town rents ice time for $100/hour, so I figure with 9 hours this rink could be making me $900/day! How great is that!

I’m not sure I could bear to rent it out though. It’s pretty nice to just have it for ourselves. In fact, it’s totally awesome. Having a rink makes me feel like a millionaire. Nope I don’t have an indoor swimming pool, or personal bowling alley in my house, but I have a skating rink. My own personal skating rink! And I didn’t even have to flood it! Mother Nature did that for me.

This year the rink has grown in fits and starts. It was small at the start of the year, then we got a dumping of snow and I figured that there’d be no rink at all. Then we got April weather in January and all the snow melted and then we got some rain, and it froze again, this time twice the size! With climate change I’m starting to accept that my skating pond will never be a sure thing, which makes me appreciate it even more when I do have one.

Michelle skated with me for a while this afternoon. We talked about our daughters, tried to figure out the names of the characters from Downton Abbey and solved most of the world’s problems.

Jasper the Wonder Dog loves the rink. Well, let me qualify, Jasper loves the hockey puck. He is mesmerized by it. When it sits on the bench, he just stares at it. And when I start stick handling with it, he can barely contain himself. His heads pivots back and forth like a spectator at a tennis match and then he pounces and grabs it. It’s pretty cute to watch.

The rink is helping me to work on my sticking handling for Happy Hockey on Tuesday mornings in town. This is a skill with no consequence to the overall order of the universe, but it’s a great distraction.

In fact I can’t imagine a better place to achieve Zen than on a skating rink. Our pond is under our wind turbine and I can admire both of my solar panel arrays from the rink. This is a very satisfying feeling to know I’m making all my own power. The sun was out on Sunday afternoon and I could feel my white frostbitten Canadian body manufacturing Vitamin “D” as the sun warmed my face.

Trees surround the pond. There are quite a few maples and I like to observe their growth. I continue to thin the poplars for firewood, and the maples will ultimately warm our house but each year they grow taller and wider and right now they have big red buds, ready for the spring. In the spring this frozen pond of ice will give way to much life. Today it is eerily silent on the ice, but on the first warm spring night the spring peepers will out in full force and their mating calls will be deafening. That’s a long way away right now and I’m happy about that. The miracle is that the peepers are somehow in suspended animation in the mud under the ice. Nature is truly amazing.

As I skate around and around it’s very easy to zone out. It’s like when Buddhists chant, I feel like I get in that zone of higher consciousness.

The one thing that I think about the most is that there is simply no other place I’d rather be. Not in a mall. Not on a golf course. Not on a beach. Not even in the garden. Right now I’m happy that planting is still months off. I’m still recovering from last year’s drought. I hear that many places in the U.S. are still under drought conditions. We have had a fraction of the precipitation we should have had by now, but at least there was enough rain to fill the rink and I am grateful for that.

When we first moved here there was a low area near the house and I noticed that the snowmelt accumulated there in the spring. So I hired a backhoe for 4 hours and enlarging and making the pond deeper was one of the jobs that we accomplished. One winter we had a good-sized rink but then we got a major dumping of snow, and I was still in skating mode. My neighbor Ken had just bought an ATV with a plow, so when he was over one day I asked if he would help me to clear my skating pond. His brother-in-law Cyril was with him, which was helpful because Ken couldn’t get any traction on the ice, so the three of us perched on the ATV as he plowed. I was, in fact, kind of hanging off the back trying to figure out how quickly I could scramble to shore when we crashed through, and then how we were going to recover the ATV once it had crashed through. Ken, as always, was unconcerned.

As he was plowing Ken turned to Cyril and said “Cam made this pond!” It’s a line that has stuck with me for years. I really didn’t make the pond. Nature made it. Nature fills it. Nature freezes it into a rink. I just shovel it.

And yet as I race around the rink marveling at the efficiency of steel on ice and the absolute beauty of this winter day and the total luxury of having my own private ice rink to skate on, I think to myself, “Yes, I made this!”

Just another Red Letter Day at Sunflower Farm. 

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