Tag Archiv: ice skating

Shovelling

DSCN2193

 

I would explain what is happening with the blog (that I posted on like clockwork for two years and then disappeared into silence for the last months) except I’m not entirely sure. My life does not always feel like my own. I lack a fair bit of control over my time, not to mention the needs of others that I appear tasked to meet. The juxtaposition to that reality is that there is some kind of volcano of desire at work in me these days, daring me to live in ways I long to but have not dared hope for, except in whispers. Little personal time plus risky soul searching has left me without a lot of words.

This weekend I found myself on our pond shovelling. Despite the lack of decent snowfall, it needed quite a bit. Boy two and the girls had done some. Sunday was supposed to be a group effort plus me, but the excitement of my presence lulled them into happy skating while I put myself through my shovelling paces mostly alone.

It hit me as I worked that pond clearing was a pretty good metaphor for the state of my interior life right now – which has similarly required a lot of shovelling. To carve a path where there wasn’t one before. To clear the ice and reaffirm for another season that there is magic worth working for. That underneath the snow, there are possibilities hidden, waiting to be uncovered, discovered, and skated upon with abandon and laughter.

My last post mentioned my shopping intentions. With not a little bit of trauma and drama, I followed through on it. I’ve been told in moments I lack the strength to argue that I’m not finished yet. No comment about that. But buying clothes that fit, feel good, and look nice, has been part of my shovelling. . .  I thought I was going to say a bit more about this, but I’m finding I can’t. Thinking about how I look, as opposed to what I think or believe, is for the time being just a little too threatening to write about. Saying that much is the end of my brave acts on discussing the subject. :)

The pond is easier to talk about. It looks very big when you arrive. But regardless of size, clearing begins with a single shovel full. I start out to clear a section. Then I get bored and start paths here and there down through the middle of the snow. After that I start other sections, which sometimes merge with previous sections and sometimes don’t.

This is my explanation for why the muscles in my soul feel like they’re getting a good workout. Because if the clothes were a section of my pond, the shovelling has certainly branched out. I finished my work on the children’s novel with a good sense of accomplishment. Then realized that although I would love to see it published, I’m just not ready to hang my daily energies on its success or failure. I’ll work at queries here and there, but I’m not willing to die for it.  I haven’t stopped loving words, dreaming of books, or writing in my head while I drive down the road, but I don’t want my success or failure as a person hanging on the validation of a publishing contract. Can one still be a writer and say that?

Crazy thinking had other branches. In December, I wondered what would happen if I went back to school for one of those things I would have given my right arm to do twenty years ago, but I can’t now because it’s too late. The thought was so shocking I almost fell down thinking it. I’m a mother of four. In her forties. My life path is already decided. I knew going to school was unrealistic . . . until I didn’t know that anymore. Until I started wondering if my tiny shovel and a little grace might be able to carve out a path big enough to skate on.

When not despairing at the obstacles, I whisper to myself that there might still be time – that dreams long buried really can come true. Nothing is decided. Nothing is assured. But a few times, when no one was watching I have leapt into the air and laughed on the chance it is possible.

Irritation and Invitation spelled: s h a r i n g

A Group of Children Playing at 'Tug of War' in a Domestic Interior by Harry Brooker, 1891

A Group of Children Playing at ‘Tug of War’ in a Domestic Interior
by Harry Brooker, 1891

I wanted my Phys. Ed. classes to skate this month. An outdoor rink maintained by the township was available. As precaution only, I drove over to check the ice the morning of our first skate. To my surprise,  a foot of uncleared snow covered the rink. The township office said the man who cleared the ice only worked evenings and he’d been tied up the night before.

Was there anything else? Did I need to reserve the ice?

No, I said. No one will be there in the middle of the day. We’ll be gone by 3.

I called my husband . . . My father-in-law’s house and snow blower were nearby. I’d changed my mind about the usefulness of snow blowers. Was there any way he could leave work and come show me how to use one?

Helpful husband came. My lesson lasted two minutes. I had to do the whole rink twice, but I made it to the school in time to eat my lunch and load up kids. I was pleased with myself, a little tired, but pleased. On the way over I noted that the only child in the required helmet category who had forgotten theirs was mine.

We pulled into the parking lot to see hockey nets at either end of the rink. Three young men in their early twenties were on the ice just starting a hockey game. I might have been speechless at the irony (there was no way they’d be playing hockey right now if I hadn’t spend my morning getting the ice ready for them) but I had a cars full of excited skaters eager to lace on their skates and get started.

Negotiations were a little tense at first. Appealing to the generous side of sunshine starved strangers (just arrived to enjoy the warmest winter day in weeks) is not an easy sell. They bent a little. I bent. They bent. I felt like I’d walked into a remedial course on sharing. My first skaters were weak enough I knew we didn’t need the whole rink. I marked a middle line and we shared the ice with the hoodie lads. They got the ice to themselves when we drove to swap group one with group two. Hoodie hockey men agreed to give us the rink to ourselves for the older group.

It’s no wonder people fight over countries and resources. For a few minutes, I almost couldn’t see my way through to sharing a rectangle of ice on a glorious winter day. By the time we parted ways, we were new friends thanking each other.

Sharing is a terrible thing. Who knows why we tell our children to do it. Sharing means you don’t get everything exactly the way you want it. Worse, you have to admit that other people are as valuable and deserving of happiness as you are. Nasty stuff that.

And cheers to the hoodie men for making it work.

Inconvenience, Dates, and Love

file0001278207324

Taking a page from my mother’s book, I take the kids on dates. Not that often, but sometimes, just me with one of them. Girl two and I had a date last week. We dropped the other kids off at school, went home, moved a table in front of the wood stove, and played games. We had popcorn and tea. Then we got in the car and drove to a skating rink. We arrived towards the end of the adult skate time. Girl two was too pulsing with excitement to wait. We did our best to stay out of the way. She is very enthusiastic about skating. Girl two skates much like I would imagine a person with limited limb control and a deep desire to sprint would skate after say a six pack of beer. Very happy. Very fast. Not so steady on her feet. Somehow oblivious to pain and the possible connection between frequent crashes and speed.

The rink we went to is used for Junior A hockey. Compared to our pond, it’s massive. To our utter amazement, for about fifteen minutes after the adult skaters left, we had the whole place to ourselves. We skated clockwise, counter clockwise, across the centre sideways and every other way we could imagine. We talked about having a dance competition but luckily that fell through. Eventually a few others came. Not being used to an actual rink, I thought Girl two might tire but she insisted on skating for the full hour.

“That was perfect,” she said as we skated off the ice. “That was exactly what I wanted. Just to skate with nobody telling me what to do. Not like at the pond where everybody is always bossing me around.”

We went for lunch and played magic fairy. (The magic fairy makes anything possible.)

“If the magic fairy let you try three things to be when you grow up, what would they be?” I asked.

“Missionary . . .  doctor . . . or . . . or own a restaurant,” she said. “Because I want to do something that people actually need and everybody needs to eat. Probably not doctor though. Just the other two. And if I had a restaurant, poor people could always eat there for only one dollar. No matter what.”

It is very frustrating to find times to fit in the dates. I promise them ahead because I worry otherwise I wouldn’t do them. Even so I drag my feet and think of giving rain cheques. Afterwards I can’t imagine how I ever thought of missing it.

Girl one is anxious for our upcoming date. “I like to be with you because I can say anything and I know you won’t make fun of me,” she said. “I like talking to you because I trust you with my words.”

How is it that we find love so inconvenient, and yet it always seeks and waits for us?

Chutzpah and Heritage

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

A friend of mine was born with cerebral palsy. Her left hand doesn’t have the range of motion that her right does. Her left ankle doesn’t have the same strength as her right. She is not a champion typist or Olympic level jar lid opener. After that, it’s hard to find the long term effects of her debilitating condition.

She’s 61 now, a spit and fire of love and creative energy, gentle and apologetic for her ten mistakes, forgiving and generous of spirit to the 10,000 mistakes of others. She is a kindergarten teacher. Over the course of 30 plus years, she has taught hundreds. She had befriended thousands. She is a cycler, swimmer, cross country skier, hiker, skater. She bakes endless cookies, gingerbread men, and extremely fine butterhorns.

When she was young, she says she fell down a lot. Her mother let her pick herself back up again. They lived near the ocean, her beloved Atlantic ocean. She sputtered and swam crooked. Her mother let her sputter and she figured it out. She couldn’t always keep up with the other kids. Her mother told her to go play anyway.

By the time she was 18, my friend was running her own daycare in the summers. I’ve seen pictures. Kids everywhere that she fed, took swimming and played with. She went on to Gordon College and a life of teaching kindergarteners and a thousand million (as she would say) friends.

 

Yes, you can, she says laughing. Yes, you can, she says cheering. Yes, you can, she says nose to nose, I won’t take no for an answer. You try it and you do it because I know you can, you just have to know it too, she will say to young friends. In the history of the world, when someone tries something, she has never forgotten to cheer.

A few weeks ago, my friend came over to skate. She forgot to bring a brace for her ankle. I offered to help her lace up the skate on the bad foot and she accepted. It took us both fighting hard to get that crooked ankle to let her foot inside the skate. We got it in and we laced it up, but her left skate couldn’t stand straight, it had to go at the ice on an angle. I thought she might skate gently around the edges for a while and get a sense of the ice.

Great ice, she yelled to girl two. Whose going to play tag with me?

I’m not being facetious. I want to know. Who was this woman’s mother?

Good Gifts

I vaguely remember in the lead up to Christmas feeling overwhelmed and frustrated about unfinished lists. Blissfully fuzzy now are all such silly things. I remember the gifts, too many to count. In the telling I am happy all over again.

This year we got three days of an odd snow and freezing rain combination right before Christmas. Holidays can’t be ruined by weather, but it can make them sing a little more. I watched the rain come down and felt a little melancholy about the inevitable destruction of good skating ice on the pond.

Christmas Eve (twas the time for cleaning madly) I opened the outside door to see my daughter’s boots thrown on the snowy ground. Irritated, I commanded into the cold for her to come and explain. She didn’t answer. Her brothers smiled and pointed.

Girl one was skating. All over the yard, around the house, and out into the pasture. Instead of melting the snow or leaving divots all over the place, the freezing rain had hardened six inches of snow into a very hard and smooth surface. Christmas day kids were sledding, skating, and Cross Country skiing, all on the same hills and fields, sometimes side by side.

My favourite gift was a song. Boy one on the piano, girl one on the violin, boy and girl two singing. The First Noel. A surprise performance for me.

The day after Christmas, we went to see my brother and his family. We didn’t fight moving from beds to car. For most of nine hours travelling, we were kind to each other. We have no idea how it happened. I feel asleep that night with gratitude (and wonder). Two families of six (who see each other twice a year) were in a three bedroom house for days. The joy inside me was so loud, I hardly heard the kids.

I love my sister-in-law to death. I also find her organization inspiring. I started sorting and organizing the night we got home and for almost the entire next day. More order and hope are already flooding the place as I head into another day of home improvements.

In closing, the commentary department:

I am in the laundry room. Boy one puts his arms around me from behind.

“Thanks. What’s that for?”

“I feel like I’ve been a jerk today. I just wanted to say that.”

 

Mid morning on the first,  So what if I can’t marry a Dutch girl (like my brother did) at least I can learn from one cleaning day. The girls had cleaning rags in hand. I was arranging shoes. “We’re like Cinderella,” said Girl one. “We work all the time, but we’re really happy.”

During our anniversary celebration, discussion of marriage commenced.

“You guys fight a lot,” said one cheery voice.

I wasn’t sure how to take the appraisal. It surprised me. I was deciding how depressed to feel when boy two interjected, sincere and insistent.

“Mom and Dad don’t fight a lot, Mom’s just right a lot.”

Ah, my young shining knight . . .

Holidays and THANK YOU!

Happy times, retro ski clothes and all.

Happy times.

I am taking time off from the blog to do things like watch musicals, play games, visit family, and skate on the pond. Three items of business follow. If you only read one, read #3!!!!

1. Blogs will be intermittent (and written only if something really compelling occurs) until after the New Year.

2. If you want a quick e-mail to let you know about the occasional post between now and when regular life resumes, now is a great time to sign up for County Road 21 updates by clicking here . The system is very old school for the techno world. If you sign up, here is what to expect . . .

I send out an e-mail with a link to the blog anytime there is a new post. Normally, this means one e-mail a day, five days a week. The e-mail is from countyroad21@gmail.com and is sent manually using blind copies in a group e-mail. I do it this way because I could figure out how to do it and because I don’t personally like to sign up for things where I get notification every time someone comments, or even puts a smiley face.

3.  IMPORTANT.  VERY IMPORTANT.  PLEASE READ.

I want to say thank you, to you, my readers. You have been such a gift to me. It is a privilege to have a place to write, and the fact that you show up and share the space with me both humbles and blesses me a great deal. Blog readership is growing, and that can only be thanks to you as well. Thank you sincerely to each of you for your support. For those who like to just read and not comment (a lot of my male readers fall into this category :) ) THANK YOU. For those who respond with comments, either privately by e-mail/facebook or on the blog, THANK YOU. For those of you who have read something you liked and passed it on to a friend or two, THANK YOU!

I pray for all of you often to have joy and love and all manner of good things caught up in your feet every time you try to take a step.  A very Merry Christmas to you and those you love.

With many thanks,

Michelle