How I loved skating ! One day my father came in the house where I had been moping around after a break with my boyfriend at the time. He urged me to get my “boots and skates”. He always called them “boots and skates” because when he was young that is what he wore- skates that were tied on to his boots. I used to imagine that they must have been quite a chore to get on. My lace- ups caused me enough difficulties . Getting them tight was a two man operation, one person pulled the laces and another stuck his finger on the place where the laces crossed to keep them from slipping. This was repeated up the entire front panel of the skate.
That day Dad and I jumped into the car and went for a drive up Badger Road. We went as far as Red Cliff where he had found an area off to the right that had a patch of ice almost level with the highway . It seems it was a flooded area rather than a natural pond. Possibly it was an overflow from the Exploits River. This patch of water formed a channel that travelled alongside the road for about a quarter of a mile and meandered into the trees here and there. A good layer of ice had formed on the top and since there hadn’t been much snow the smooth surface was like glass.
It was a lovely cold day the kind when your nose feels like it is lined with ice crystals rather than mucous. You could see your breath and ice formed on your eyelashes, a clear cold winter’s day. In front of us were about thirty skaters . There was a profusion of colour from the home knitted hats , scarves and mittens. No one looked like a figure skater. The padded snowpants and thick jackets took care of that illusion. But there were some who were excellent skaters . We had no figure skating in those days in our town. So any person who was good at skating either came by it naturally or was taught by someone who had learned a few techniques of their own.
I had skated at the arena many times in my life but this was my only experience outdoors. I was surprised when I found that the ice felt quite different under my feet. There were ridges and bumps that startled me and caused me to wobble and falter. After a few minutes of torturous attempts at graceless bumbling I was rescued . It was Tom , a fellow from town. He skated up to me and asked me if I’d like a skate. Would I like a skate! Well it would be a change from what I was doing at that moment. And he was a really handsome guy whom I’d often admired. Would I like a skate! You’re darned tootin’ I would. He took my hand linked my arm into his and off we glided. It is amazing the difference someone else’s arm makes when you are skating. Even one finger will give you an added sense of security. And if that appendage belongs to a good looking guy a double axel isn’t out of the question. I was on a cloud of exhilaration.
We glided up the channel,down the channel , rounded trees ,made small loops, large loops and figure eights. We giggled and laughed enjoying the speed . We swerved to avoid skaters who threatened to run us down . And finally in exhaustion we skated to the road bed where my father waited.
Forty years later I still remember that day. And actually no day skating in the arena ever came close to the thrill of that one day my father, taking pity on me, took me up the road for a skate.