Last Sunday, I woke up to the thick scrape and grind of metal on ice. The lake behind my house is frozen. It must be really cold out. They’re ice skating! These thoughts tumbled over each other in a rush of childish joy – the kind that makes you bound out of bed, and land at the window without touching the ground. Hapless shrieks of distress, tangled with the ecstatic barking of a terrier too small for such a racket. The timeless beauty of crystalline white, so sharp as to be blinding, filled me with the awe of how sweet cruel winter can be.
I watched the skaters, transfixed. Unsummoned, winter moments long-past beamed across my mind, overtaking the figure 8s below. There was nothing unique about those days. Yet, on this ever-lengthening right side of 50, with a nod to Wilder, the mundaneness makes it all the more special.
I inhale the cold smell of winter radiating off dad’s gray jacket. I see clearly his sparkling green eyes; red cheeks. And I distinctly hear his voice grow muffled as he rummages, down in the utility room, through an admirable collection of skates.
Bundled up like sausage, out into the numbing cold, Mom’s homemade hot chocolate in hand, dad forces our laces into ankle supports, skates backwards so that we can skate forward, exhales life back into frozen fingers, smiles so broadly that all of life exists just to glide free, effortlessly, unfettered by pits in the road, without gravity or impediments to slow you down.
Having cursed plenty of icy days, and secretly rejoicing the year my own kids outgrew leaping out of bed to go ice skating, I can now enjoy from inside the comfort of my bedroom, the wonders of those glorious winter days.