Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Skating Party -- Skating on Lakes
When I was a child, I recall skating in endless circles in an arena to the muzakked tune of Obladee Obladaa piped in through a tinny PA system. We had to traverse (without adult accompaniment--gasp!!!) a wheat-field tilled for the winter, mud caking onto our boots until we stumped along like astronauts, skates banging across our shoulders. The arena was in an industrial area of factories and debris strewn parking lots, desolate on a Saturday morning. The arena fit well into the milieu with steel drum garbage cans to greet you at the door, and vast echoing interior of steel struts and poor lighting. I must have enjoyed it well enough as I recall returning again and again. But that song, even now drilling it's way into my mind, still evokes a peculiar sense of entrapment that goes along with skating endless counter-clockwise circles.
After the first opportunity to skate on a lake, my tolerance of the arena experience ended. On a lake, you see the sky, feel the wind, and, best of all, travel. You can go somewhere, to the island, to the far shore. Sometimes ice conditions are bad, and you are confined to skate tiny tight circles but the vastness of the universe surrounds you. Only bird song, the hush of pines, and soft razor sigh as your skates cuts the ice greets your ear. Other times, the good ice spreads like a maze of shiny black ovals and your skate is only bounded by windblown snow. Last Family Day Weekend on the wide South Magnetawan River, I experienced the best ice ever, and I don't think I'll ever forget the accumulated moments.
On February 14th, my husband and I arrived at Harris Lake, where our friends Gus & Rike awaited us, ready to bring us across the ice and through forests for our visit in their woodland home. "Bring skates, you might get a chance to use them", we were told only hours prior, but as we traversed iced thick with criss-crossed scars of snowmobile trails and snowy crusts we didn't allow our hopes to rise. We were served a savoury homemade soup and a bounty of bread and cheese, and engaged in lively conversation, catching up on all the events from the months between our last visit. And so it was that it was nearing sundown before we finally sat down on the shore of Magnetawan to lace up our skates and give it a try. The ice in front of their cottage was puckered like orange rind, but the glide was satisfactory if you kept a keen eye out for humps and bumps. This is good, we thought. But I grew bored, and soon picked my way across a choppy sea of snowmobile trails. What we found, beyond the network of trails, was nirvana. Lake ice smooth and creamy white, with delicate marble swirls of darker ice. The late afternoon sun spanned the horizon, magnified into an explosion of white through a thin layer of cirrostratus cloud. The suns brilliant light poured molten gold across butter smooth ice, a frictionless surface that lent us wings to fly into the sun. Boundaries fell away, as we explored across the vast surface in every direction, following our own whims, spreading out and coming together like wild birds in flight. And I finally understood why some people dream of heaven, a concept I always thought boring, but I here I was thinking that I would not be unhappy to caught forever gliding across a frozen sky with two of the people I most love.
Image: this is my first rendition of Skating Party in watercolour. I'm busy with more, desperate to somehow capture that fleeting moment forever. Below, three aceo's I did, still working out the concept.
These ACEO's are available at my Etsy shop.