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Rural Roots – Dreams on ice

Posted on January 5, 2015 by Maple Creek

I’m sure no one was watching.

If someone had been there, I never would have done it.

It’s one of those things that you just DON’T DO in front of people.

Some people might do it in the presence of others, but at age 46, I’m not one of them.

As I drove through the snowy evergreen forest, I scanned the landscape for people – no one. The blood in my veins quickened as I neared the lake of this urban park and imagined that I would actually find myself all alone.

I could hardly contain my excitement as I parked my car, grabbed my figure skates and headed toward the black patch of ice that lay waiting for me. My heart thundered in my chest as the Rocky Mountains rose up around me and the pristine patch of ice called my name.

I nervously tightened my skates and clumsily marched through the snow surrounding the urban lake until I was at the edge of the sacred surface. City of Cranbrook crews had just flooded Idlewild Lake and I was about to be the first to set my shaky blades upon it.

This had been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember. To skate all alone on the mirrored surface of a lake as the ravens flew overhead and the smell of pine trees surrounded me.

It seems like it would have been a simple enough dream. However, finding a patch of outdoor ice is not as simple as it may seem. If you do find lake ice, it’s usually covered with snow. And if you do manage to spend the 17 hours it requires to remove that snow, you usually find a mottled mess of cracked and bumpy ice below.

Sure, there are outdoor rinks all over the Prairies, but you rarely find yourself alone on one. And if you do, the ice has already been hacked to bits by those seeking to have the same outdoor skating bliss I’ve been chasing all my life.

I started with a single mark on the glass-like ice, from which I traced concentric circles for about half an hour. The white tracing on the black ice was unlike anything I’d seen before and the meditative quality of the time made it feel like mere minutes.

And then, I began to skate as I had only imagined in my dreams. With the birds as my witnesses, I skated like I was 16 again. I did cross cuts and flips. I did footwork and spins. I recreated the figure skating programs of my past and I danced the patterned dances that I used to do 30 years ago.

I was finally ready for my finale.

I placed my headphones in my ears and selected a familiar piece of music by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. I set myself in the centre of the massive outdoor ice surface and I skated to ‘Fishin’ In The Dark’ as if I was a free-spirited teenager.

I twisted and turned and leapt, throwing all of my inhibitions to the wind. And when the song came to an end, I glided around the smooth ice with my exhausted limbs resting on my trembling legs and my heaving chest gasping for air. I looked around nervously, scanning the towering pines, the snowy mountains and the willowed edges of the lake, praying that no one had been watching.

If someone had been there, I never would have done it.

Thank goodness no one was around for miles as my hopes and dreams came true as I cavorted on that lake ice – just me and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band!

Email Christalee Froese at Lcfroese@sasktel.net or visit 21days2joy.wordpress.com.

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