January 08, 2011

The scrape of skate blades


When I was a kid, we skated on the little pond in my parents’ yard. My father hung a spotlight in the willow tree, which lit the pond nicely. Just beyond the edges of the pond, shadows stretched across the snowbanks and beyond that, the white snow disappeared into darkness. Snow muffled the rural landscape, and the scrape of skate blades against ice was the only sound I heard as I skated around and around in the cold night air.

The sound of skate blades against ice reminds me of that scene. I can close my eyes and picture frozen cattails, a little pine tree half-buried in a snowbank, the dark night sky overheard.

When Brooklyn Friend took us to an urban skating rink, I heard the clatter of skate blades against ice — that same noise. But all around me, rose tall buildings, with light spilling out of display windows. Hundreds of people, all in dark clothes, rushed along the sidewalks, sometimes talking but mostly silent. Tourists stood in clusters to take photos. Music blared from speakers. Security men guarded the big Christmas tree.

Down on the ice, kids were doing the same stuff we did as kids: learning to balance, grabbing each other’s hands, screaming at each other to wait up, slow down.

We didn’t have time to skate; we were on our way to a jazz club, and Shaggy Hair Boy wanted to be there when the doors opened. But I wandered around for a few minutes, happily taking pictures and ruminating about urban nature, and what happens when you created a skating pond in the most urban setting possible. When I looked up from my camera, I realized that I had lost Shaggy Hair Boy in the crowd. There were just so many people rushing about. But then he appeared, almost magically, by my side.

“Oh, good,” I said. “I was afraid we had gotten separated.”

“It’s so easy to find you in the city,” he said. “You’re the only one wearing a red ski jacket.” He grinned as he pulled up his own dark hood, and we followed Brooklyn Friend down a side street toward the jazz club.


Lorianne said...

Now you know why I wear a bright pink beret. :-)

Sandy said...

Lovely photo. I like how the tree lights shine off the granite.

Lilian said...

Oh yeah, and I'm glad my son love to wear orange, he's always very easy to spot in a crowd of kids or people. :)

I don't feel the least desire of skating there because it's just too small and crowded. I first ice-skated in a shopping mall in Brazil, but I have since been able to realize my life-long dream of skating in a really big lake/pond (while 6 months pregnant, no less) and now everything for me feels small and not as magical.

It must have been fun, skating in your backyard pond. Did you have to plow the snow on it to be able to skate? That's how we skated at a camp in MA once (they had a small tractor plow the lake, it was frozen solid). I was only able to ice skate in the really big pond in the back of our house in MA back in 2001-2002 because it didn't snow until January 12 that year.

jo(e) said...

Lilian: We often had to spend hours shoveling the skating rink before we could skate.

It is really fun to ice skate on big areas. We used to skate on the canal sometimes and a few times on the St. Lawrence River. When you can skate long distances without stopping, it feels like flying.

Jennifer said...

I love the sound of skates carving grooves into the ice.

Everybody wears dark coats in Switzerland. Australian and I not only have bright red winter jackets, we have the same jacket! It's a bit embarrassing.

Lilian said...

wow... hours shoveling. But well worth the fun.

I hope to be able to skate in a big area someday again. But first I need to teach my sons to skate and to roller-blade (I love both). I think they'll do really well. In fact, Kelvin can roller-blade already, what am I saying... he did in Florida last November.

AmpersandPrime said...

Fantastic shots of the city.