Saturday, December 15, 2007

At the Lonely End of the Rink

I hear your voice ‘cross a frozen lake
a voice from the end of a leaf
saying, ‘you won’t die of a thousand fakes
or be beaten by the sweetest of dekes’

- The Tragically Hip.

I'm midway through the process of making a skating rink in our backyard. Emily and Kaylee are skating machines. Every day after pre-school we go slide around on the community rink, and I have to drag them off kicking and screaming. The only thing on their Christmas lists this year are "big kid skates." Kaylee's favourite story is about a little boy who loves hockey and builds a rink in his backyard. She is adamant that our rink be the right shape and have red and blue lines.

Beyond my girl's love of ice, there's a legacy-thing at the heart of flooding the back yard. My grandfather and namesake used to make a rink in the backyard for my mother and her siblings. Stacey's dad used to make one for her and her sister. And Stacey and I made one together a few months before we were married.

The first step was communal: Kaylee and I shoveled snow ridges and sprayed them down, while Emily acted as foreman overseeing us through the window, from behind a cup of hot chocolate.

Thanks in part to the warm weather, the latter steps have been solitary: wandering out into the darkness at 9 or 10 pm with a hose over my shoulder.

Something about standing in the darkness, listening to water flow, feeling the chill and reflecting on fathers now gone, fathers facing their last days and the fatherhood I find myself in the midst of feels right. Solid. It feels like a place I'm supposed to be.

Just don't laugh when you see how poorly I skate.


s. m. d. said...

A beautiful post describing a beautiful thing. Now I want to make my own rink - even though I can't skate worth a darn. :)

stacey said...

Nor can Rob. You two could take lessons together! Backyard rinks are a good place to learn 'cause you can fall on your butt and don't have to worry about too many people laughing at you. Maybe just Lindsay...