Nearing the endgame

melting rink ice

Photo by lrargerich

This post was inevitable.  But I still hate writing it.

Because it is beginning to look more and more like Sunday, February 14th was the last skating day of the 2009-2010 backyard rink season.  I spent about an hour on the ice with the boots-and-helmet-clad RJ, as I was trying to break in a new stick while he perfected his spectacular stick-throwing dives and amazing pad-stack saves (sans pads, of course).  I had to beg him to come inside with me for dinner, and as painful as that can be when you’re talking about a toddler, I believe having arguments with your children about leaving the rink for dinner is written somewhere in the Backyard Rink Constitution.  And if it’s not, it should be.

Millin Four 'Em-ites

The Millin Four 'Em-ites passing the torch

But now I’m sitting here at 9pm on Thursday, February 25th, and if I turn on the floodlights, I can see the glimmer of water between the four boards.  10 days of 40+ degree temps and a monsoon of a rain event this week have withered my once-solid ice surface into a floating slab of what once was.  I’m planning on stealing an idea that I heard about from my friend Scott Millin, which is to take a chunk of this year’s ice, preserve it ziplock-style in the freezer, and add it to next year’s rink before the water freezes.  With a nod to the ongoing Olympics in Vancouver, think of it as a passing of the torch from one skating season to the next.

This year was a rousing success by any measure.  We skated first on Christmas Day, and closed up shop officially on February 14th.  Aside from one or two storms, we had skateable ice for 51 days.  This season will be forever burned into my memory as the first year that RJ moved around on his own on skates, though that memory is flanked by plenty of other rink moments that we shared with family and friends over the last few months.  I’ll be sifting through some pictures from this year and assembling a slideshow, which I will publish shortly. 

But it is time to close the book on Backyard Rink Year Two.  With our current home listed for sale, I have a particular apprehension about when I will be able to begin writing in the book on Year Three.  I have gone on record (literally) as saying our next house will have room for a backyard rink, but the truth is that I don’t know.  It is obviously high up on our list of wants, but should every other aspect of a house fit our needs, it will be tough to say no on account of not having a perfectly flat yard.  All I can do at this point is just hope that the right house comes along, flat yard and all. 

Thank you to everyone who helped make this year a success (that means you, dad), and to everyone who came out and made it all worth it.  In the event that I have skated my last strides on my own rink, it has at least served its intended purpose: to connect me to the people I love, to cultivate a love for a game that I am passionate about, and to act as something of an inanimate therapist, masseuse, and companion. 

Orson Welles says it far more eloquently than I ever could:

If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.

I hope my backyard rink story isn’t over, and that we’re simply changing the look of the cover for the next edition.  Time shall tell.

One thought on “Nearing the endgame

  1. Scott

    After years 1 and 2 of successful skating I hated the idea of “The Endgame”. I felt that once it was over it would be impossible to duplicate the success I had – ‘it couldn’t possibly be that good ever again!’ I would tell myself when skating around for my final skate on my ice. Then mother nature always sounded the season ending buzzer (which is almost as obnoxious as the horn at the Belle Centre in Montreal),leaving me no choice but to call it a year.

    Now I am slowly realizing that is the beauty of the seasons – it has to end so that it can begin again, and as a result, each year is new and each year is different, but the satisfaction remains the same. I still hate that it ends but I love that it begins again too.

    I hope you find a house that makes your family happy and that is suitable for a backyard rink as well. Even if you find the former and not the latter you can always rent a bobcat, buy lots of dirt, and make it work. 🙂

    Congrats on RJ’s first skate, for being the co-lead 🙂 on an story about backyard rinks, and for making memories for your friends and family in 2009/2010. Mission accomplished. Here’s to the same in 2010/2011.


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