When we last left you, we were coming down off the high that was January 1st 2010, that being the day that saw the beginning of a new hockey career and the showcase of the world’s greatest sport at Fenway Park. Friday afternoon, as the crowds ambled towards the T and the last bits of ice slid off RJ’s size 8 Bauers and onto the kitchen rug-turned-locker room, it began to snow. And snow. And snow. Preparing ourselves for the event, we buckled down in our warmest flannels, our slankets, and the best DVR’d toddler cartoons DirecTV could record. And we wholly ignored our backyard slab.
48 hours later, we emerged from the colonial igloo, grabbed various ice-cleaning accoutrements, and set out towards the 603. We had what I thought was solid ice on Friday, and I assumed the light and fluffy 10″ of snow we’d received would be sitting nicely on top of it. I figured a half hour to clean off the snow and we’d be able to resurface with the homeboni down to a skateable surface. I started with the snow thrower in the shallow end, making several passes while RJ bounced around the deep end with his plastic shovel. As I turned the thrower around for my third pass, I saw his tiny little boots sticking straight up from beyond the high boards and ran over to pluck him from the snow. I heard his little belly laugh before I even reached him, and I breathed a sigh of relief. But as I placed him upright on the rink’s surface, I turned around to reveal a dozen or so size 12 footprints, not in the fluffy white snow, but in dark gray SLUSH. It had never even occurred to me that there would be anything but solid ice under the snow, so this foreign (and unwanted…and hated…and HEAVY) visitor sent me reeling. Thinking the rink had experienced melting, I grabbed RJ and hopped over the boards back into the yard.
After consulting with my rink experts (aka the Yahoo Backyard Rink group), we decided the best course of action would be to remove the snow atop the slush, allowing it to be exposed to the frigid temps that we’re expecting later this week. So my dad and I went back out, shovels in tow, and proceeded to clear off the rink, first moving snow, then pushing slush. The endgame thankfully justifying the effort, we left the rink 90 minutes later with the original ice surface exposed to the air, complete with skate marks from Friday’s jaunt.
After reading some older posts from the Yahoo gang, I have deduced that my slush was not a result of melting ice, but rather was a result of the heavy snow pushing down my slab of ice and displacing some of the water beneath it. Since I missed the extreme cold in early December and have been only dealing with teens and 20’s since, my rink had not yet frozen to the ground. In my deep end, I had what I now realize was approximately 6″ of ice floating on top of 6″ of water. When the snow accumulated, the weight of the snow allowed the water to seep up from beneath the slab, mixing with the bottom few inches of snow to create the Hell Soup that we shoveled yesterday. Had I even thought of this possibility, it’s likely I would have emerged from my weekend hot chocolate coma to shovel the rink a few times, subsequently eliminating the weight before the water had a chance to be displaced.
What did I learn from this slushy surprise?
First, I learned that the ice depth ruler that rbrand1124 posted to the Backyard Rink group would have told me on Friday that I wasn’t skating on a solid block, but a floating slab. As it was, I had no idea. I *will* be making four of these (one for each corner) next season.
I also learned that even the lightest snow is capable of pushing a slab of ice down far enough to displace water, a concept that I probably would have challenged had I not seen it myself. This means more mid-storm shoveling, at least until we’re frozen to the ground.
And lastly, I learned that maintaining a rink gets infinitely easier when you have an understanding owner (the wife), eager players (RJ), and willing assistants (my dad). The fact that we should be skating again this weekend is a testament to each of them and their willingness to let me exist in the mad, mad world that is rinkbuilding.