|My old figure skates have been with me most of my life. Photo by John.|
Ah, white skates! To a kid raised on hand-me-down boys' skates -- boring, brown, flatfooted -- white figure skates were a piece of classical art. The graceful curved boot in unblemished shining white, the saucy black heel, the sweet little toe picks (not that I knew what to do with them), the shining silver blades. I can't remember how old I was when I finally achieved these coveted skates, but I loved them so much that the day I got them, I left them out on my bed so I could pay them periodic visits of private adoration.
Those skates saw me through the fierce hustle of the outdoor ice rink near my Alberta school, where older boys with hockey sticks would jostle with elementary-level kids every winter noon hour of the school year. I took the skates to university, where I received the first figure-skating instruction of my life thanks to a physical education class (I sucked), and on to Vancouver when I moved there in 1973.
Vancouver's winters aren't cold enough to allow for the kind of outdoor ice rinks I grew up with in Alberta. But in 1974, a cold snap froze the city's lakes and ponds deep enough that the park board allowed skating. So John and I laced up our skates and had the amazing experience of gliding over Stanley Park's Lost Lagoon, where ducks, swans and geese usually hold sway.
I've been thinking about skating, because ever since Dec. 5, Vancouver has been in the grip of winter, with icy streets making it difficult to get much exercise walking. Wouldn't it be fun to go skating instead? With that in mind, I found my old white skates tonight and tried to put them on. Whatever size my feet were when I was 12 or 13 or 24, they aren't that now. If our deep freeze continues long enough to allow me to carry out my plan, it will have to be with different equipment. Are another pair of brown hand-me-downs in my future?