Ice skating is not like riding a bicycle. Meaning that once the skill of skating is learned it can be, at least in my case, forgotten. I don’t even know if riding a bicycle is like riding a bicycle. I haven’t been on one in years. I did however recently lace on a pair of ice skates for the first time in a few decades.

Waiting for flags. Dee Menear/Franklin Journal

As a kid, and even a teenager, I was a regular at local rinks. As a mom, I often took my boys to a local rink. There is something very Norman Rockwell-ish about donning a pair of skates, gliding around the ice, and then ending the session with a requisite cup of hot cocoa.

Recently, I have been given an unexpected opportunity to skate and in my mind, I pictured the graceful arabesques and perfectly carved figure eights I used to be able to execute.

What actually happened involved wobbly ankles, unsure balance, a slightly bruised knee and an even more damaged ego.

The sky was blue, the ice was thick and the winter weather was less brutal than it had been in recent days. It was a perfect day to be outside.

The rink, located off the shore of a friend’s lakeside camp, had been shoveled clear of snow by kids eager to try out their new Christmas hockey gear.

The adults set a few ice fishing traps around an island further offshore while the kids played on their makeshift rink.

As we watched for flags with one eye and kids with the other, I mentioned my old passion for skating to my friend. She excused herself and headed back to camp. Before I knew it, she offered up a pair of slightly too-small skates so I could give it a whirl.

Excited to relive the experiences of my youth, I laced them up and headed over to the rink. Walking on the blades on snow-covered ice was a breeze. My balance, it seemed, was still intact.

Overly confident, I stepped onto the smooth ice. Let me tell you something. Walking on skates is much different than skating on skates. A fact I seem to have forgotten over the decades.

Grace was non-existent but I somehow managed to stay upright for a few seconds while I struggled to gain my footing. I felt like I almost had it when my skate caught a divot in the ice. Unprepared for the anomaly on the surface, I stumbled and then tumbled, landing hard on my knee. I was instantly surrounded by a ragtag hockey team anxiously inquiring about my condition.

The laughter coming from my ice fishing friends told me they weren’t so concerned.

I gave it a few more tries, using the kids for stability but eventually decided the potential for a broken hip wasn’t worth it.

As I made my way back over to the island, my friends snickered in jest and made it known I would not be living that attempt down for quite some time.

While I was gone on my adventure, my friends had started a campfire in an established firepit and found some roasting sticks. We cooked hot dogs for lunch and s’mores for dessert and drank hot cocoa from insulated thermoses.  We watched for flags, checked traps and listened to the kids laughing and playing 50 yards or so away.

“Cooking lunch over an open fire on an island in the middle of a frozen lake surround by mountains while listening to the joy of children enjoying the outdoors. People pay good money to do something like this and it’s right here in our backyard for free. We are so lucky to live where we do,” my friend said.

Indeed, we are very lucky.

No matter the season, there are so many ways to enjoy the Maine outdoors … even if one activity turns out it isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.  When it comes to hard water, I think I’ll keep my boots on and stick to fishing.


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