AUTHOR: Carolyn Savage | POSTED: January 21, 2014 | COMMENTS: 9 Comments
CATEGORIES: 1015 The River, Focusing on The Joy, Glass City Parent, Home Projects,
I built an ice rink.
A back yard, completely MacGyvered, money sucking, maintenance requiring ice rink. The building process didn’t at all play out like I had planned but if that isn’t a metaphor for my life than I don’t know what is. Nothing really ever plays out like I planned.
I need to start planning it that way.
The idea of a back yard rink, at its inception, was a bit of a pipe dream. I had a back yard ice rink when I was a kid—for one winter—and I loved it. I have memories of bundling up, lacing my skates, and gliding round and round until what my six year old self thought was midnight. (In reality it was probably seven.) It never occurred to me why my dad never build another ice rink. At the time, I figured it was because he was too busy or that he wanted me to concentrate on more important endeavors—like neverending games of Candyland—that challenged my brain. Not once did I consider that my dad learned the lessons that so many backyard rink owners learn. Namely, if you want a backyard rink prepare to spend a lot of time maintaining it…in the freezing cold…with a hose…and wet shoes.
Note to self: Learn from the actions of thy father.
Since I was a bit naive regarding the reasons for the one-hit-wonder-back-yard-ice-rink of my childhood, Sean and I decided that given the predictions of the 2014 Farmer’s Almanac, this may be a good year to give the rink a try. So, doing what every fly-by-the-seat- of her pants back yard builder does, I researched a little on the internet and settled on the PVC pipe building method for constructing our rink. I completely skipped the repeated advice of measuring the yard for a slope. We were building it on a basketball court. Surely the professionals that poured the court made it level—that is—unless those same professional purposely added a slope to promote water drainage.
Upon realization that we had a significant slope on our court, we had to invest more money and time in materials to jack up the west side of the rink. We swallowed the extra cost with a little bitterness but resolve. There was no turning back at that point. We’d already bought enough PVC pipe to provide adequate drainage for a small African village and don’t even get me started on the expense of the 40′ x 100′ piece of Superman plastic we purchased to act as a liner. Mary Kate may not have her college fund any longer but dammit…she is going to skate this winter.
The whole endeavor gets even more ridiculous when one considers the fact that not a single member of our family owns a pair of skates. In fact, I’m the only one that actually knows how to skate and after my December foot surgery I can’t even wear a pair of shoes that weren’t purchased right out of the church lady section of the Clarks store.
Effin’ brilliant, I tell you.
There have been some bright spots in this DIY backyard rink experience. First, the boys and MK have actually been outside more this winter than they have ever been. Considering we’ve experienced the coldest temps in two decades I’d say the rink has been a positive reason to dislodge my children from the monotony of indoor activities to get some exercise and fresh air. In addition, I have to admit that when I’m doing my ice maintenance at night, wet shoes aside, there’s something about the peace of a winter’s night that has a beneficial effect on my psyche. It reminds me of my childhood in Michigan and reinvigorates my love for outdoor winter activities. I grew up downhill skiing. If you’ve ever ridden a chairlift and quieted yourself enough to digest the beauty of winter… you know what I’m talking about. It’s awesome.
I recently was invited to enter my rink in a Backyard Warriors ice rink contest. I thought about it for one hot second but ultimately declined when I saw the entry form. You see, the first question asked me how I overcame the slope of our yard to build the rink. I honestly don’t have an answer for that question that doesn’t somehow expose me for the MacGyvering novice I am. Honestly, as far as I can tell, there is not physical reason our ice rink should be operational. I don’t think they’d take “It was divine intervention” as a satisfactory answer. Plus, the winner gets a back yard zamboni and that, my friends, would turn this one hit wonder rink of my children’s childhood into a mandatory repeat performance. I’m just not there yet.
I am my father’s daughter.
If any of my local readers are ever looking for a place for you little ones to skate send me an email. We are always looking for friends to play with out on the ice!
For the recipes I talked about on 101.5 The River that go along with this post please see this post here!