Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Ice Skating Season

The Winter Lodge has opened. Cold enough now for outdoor refridgerated ice here in California even in the afternoons. When Alice was a kid, the only outdoor ice in the State was Winter Lodge and the one-missing-wall Olympic Rink at Squaw Valley. The former was too small for serious figure skating, the latter too cold.
Alice and her sister were taken to Winter Lodge once for pictures. Here she is in her pale blue dress. She went skating at Squaw's Olympic rink once while her sister had a competition there. Freezing!!! Alice also went once to Sun Valley with her sister to skate in the Summer while sister competed. They had their picture taken there together. Yes, we Californians are picky about weather. And ice.
Today, there are a lot of outdoor rinks. Alice calls it the Peggy Fleming/Brian Boitano/Kristy Yamaguchi effect. Three Californians who learned to skate in the State and showed so many here how much fun skating is.
So, there are now in NorCal - for the winter - outdoor rinks in San Francisco by the Ferry Building, San Jose by the Convention Center, a dinky one at the Squaw Valley Lodge, a great big one on top of the tram at Squaw (but with a roof), brand new ones at Northstar and Sugar Bowl, and of course, at Winter Lodge.
Still..... those rinks are all so small (except for the one at the top of Squaw) ... even if the ice is very nice there... something is missing. The real outdoors with the whole sky above and a huge place to skate upon. Like the Chicago Midway in winter where Alice skating during college, in the wind, ice filling the old White City exposition lagoon outside Ida Noyes, holding her arms out in a loden coat and letting the wind blow her across the ice.... or in North Dakota where it can be so cold, skating outdoors is like trying to skate on concrete.... Did that, been there, she said. That's why she took up indoor curling there. A flashe into her brain - a classmate there named "Zamboni" who was a close blood relative of the inventor of Zambonis. Patron saint of decent skating ice.
Washington DC has lots of nice outdoor rinks where Alice likes to skate. Lovely one by the National Gallery in the Sculpture Garden and there has been a pocket one near the White House and Pennsylvania Avenue which Alice tried to skate on MLK Weekend 1995, but it was closed due to a blizzard which had overwhelmed the Zambonies. (Instead that day, Alice took her skates on an impromptu tour of the White House. No line thanks to the blizzard. Funny looks from the guards at the XRay looking at her skates. Thinking inside how much damage a skate blade could do to the wood work in the Red Room....)

Alice dreams of endless rinks in city parks, glassy ice on Adirondack lakes, Russian rivers, Canadian and Dutch canals.... Twinkly lights, hot drinks, bonfires on the shore, those who can't skate pushed around in beautiful sleighs...
Me? At a skating rink? I could go for a sleigh full of warm wool blankets and furs. On the lap of a person I like. Yes, that would do for me.