On Leap Day, I went ice skating for the very first time*. It was unexpectedly magical.
Ice skating is something I’ve wanted to try for ages but it took me a while (okay, several years) to get organized. First I had babes-in-arms, then toddlers-on-the-hip, followed by perfectly-capable-children-who-nevertheless-insisted-on-being-carried. And last winter, an acquaintance fell while skating on the Rideau Canal, fractured her forearm, and couldn’t return to work for 8 months (she’s a dental hygienist). That definitely gave me pause.
But this week, the timing was just right. My seven-year-old had a day off school and my four-year-old did not. My son and I walked down to the outdoor rink at Market Square, just the two of us, and laced up in perfect weather: blue skies, sunshine, just cold enough for the ice to stay solid, yet warm enough that we could feel our fingers while tying laces. Then my son stepped onto the ice and said, “This is how you push off, Mummy.”
I wobbled, he giggled, we rested every two laps. Here’s what I learned:
- In hockey skates, keep your weight on the balls of your feet. The blades curve under your heel, so if you lean back – or even stand tall – you will fall backwards.
- You go faster when gliding than when pushing.
- Yoga helps with balance. I was expecting to fall quite a lot, but instead only fell once. Sure, there were several undignified moments of scrabbling/lurching, but mostly I stayed on my feet.
- It doesn’t take long at all to feel the magic.
As we were preparing to leave for a hot chocolate, a woman in her late 60s/early 70s stepped onto the ice. She was amazing to watch: swift, serene, each movement small and apparently effortless. And I thought, THAT is what I want. If I work at this, I’ve got another three decades of flying along in the winter sunshine.
The real trick now is making time to skate again before next Leap Day…
How was your week, friends? How did you spend your Leap Day?
*Nick insists that Monday was not technically my first time: apparently, in my twenties, I tried it once but found the skates so uncomfortable that I muttered dark things for the entire ten minutes they were on my feet. I remember nothing.