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By Gloria Diaz
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Fort Wayne Reader
I went skating at the ďnewĒ ice arena by my house. I donít know how long itís been there, but on winter break, I broke out my barely used ice hockey skates I got for $10 at a sidewalk sale at Meijer years ago, and headed over.
Iíd scoped out the place before, without skates. I think vast spaces intrigue me, maybe because I live in such a small house. I was impressed with the size of the place, three ice rinks, a snack bar overlooking the ice, lockers, locker rooms. But it was mainly the ice. The rinks almost glowed; three giant white jewels. And it was cold, but it was a refreshing cold.
I went out there on winter break a couple times. I dressed in double layers, knowing that once I kept moving, Iíd warm up.
Iím okay with winter, except for the gray skies. I enjoy sunlight; it makes me feel alive. As long as I dress warmly and the sun shines, I try to make the best of winter. And when winter gives me snow, I try to ski. During that cold snap we had, I was thinking about making an ice rink in my backyard. I had it all planned out: outline the rink in the snow, dig about three inches deep, put down some heavy-duty clear plastic as a liner, and turn on the hose. Iíd get a squeegee and that would be my Zamboni.
Turns out I was too late. A freakish warm-up dashed my ice rink.
So, since we have inconsistent cold here, I checked out the arena. I carefully, slowly shoved my right foot into my skate. I have a huge bunion on my right big toe. It makes buying shoes tricky, and until I get it fixed, some footwear is just off-limits to me. Getting my foot into my skate took some time, but I managed to make it fit. I laced up my skates as tight as I could get them and headed out on the ice.
I am self-taught. Iíve never mastered a forward cross over, and I would very much like to. Eventually, I felt more comfortable on my blades, but I have weak ankles. Practice. The more I skated, the better Iíd get.
I noticed when I skated around the rink that I was smiling. I smile when I ski, too. I donít know if itís the feeling of skating or skiing that brings it on, or what. But I was smiling. Wobbly as I was, I was smiling.
And it was fun, as always, to people-watch. The young kids who skate with abandon, who seemingly skate on their ankles and not care, the older gentleman who definitely knows what heís doing (heís wearing a dress shirt and slacks, so you know heís serious) the guy who looks like he got dragged into the rink on the way to the deer blind. Surprisingly, after I chatted with him, I found out that he left his skates at home, and that he had to make do with the rental skates, which he wasnít fond of.
Iíll go back. Iím hoping that since school is back in session, I can head over there one afternoon, and practice getting better. I find it invigorating, the smell of the rink, when Iím out on the ice. Itís a refreshing cool. And it seems pure. It was easy to breathe.
I skated the way I skied, which is, carefully. I took frequent breaks, so I wouldnít fall. I have better insurance now, but old habits die hard, I guess. Itís better insurance, but it isnít like I live in Canada, or anything.
Itís nice to know though, that near my house I can get a little of that feeling that I love. Using the elements for fun, for good, for exercise, and to improve my mental health for a little while.