This afternoon, despite the fact that Emily's basketball team lost their game (after winning the first 2), we all had reason to celebrate, as Emily made her first basket, a nice little layup at a moment when her team really needed her. We got home, got some food, and then, at Emily's request, went to the pond at a nearby park to ice skate.
Last night we went skating indoors at a rink crowded with teenagers and with music to urge us on, with a snack bar steps away, skate lessons to watch, and young hockey jocks to dodge. I think of this as the normal way to skate, since I had never, before tonight, been skating outside. It isn't something children growing up in Kentucky learn to expect, and plus, I'd never had my own skates. But it has been so frigid, and this park's pond is a shallow little water body which we've slid on before during the local winter festival, so we had a good idea it would be safe.
Another family was out tonight, too, a dad with two boys, complete with hockey sticks and pucks. I suspect the older boy was 5, a wickedly good little skater already. None of us is a great skater, but tonight we all got better. Hazel figured out how to propel herself forward without me or a wall - it seemed easier without so many people around, and also easier perhaps because the ice wasn't so smooth and fast as indoors. Emily, despite literally having two left skates due to my taking advantage of an end of season "bargain" last year, was whizzing around the pond, and had a great time skating fast and crash-landing into the snowbanks at the edge of the shovelled "rink".
It was fully dark when we stopped. I feel like we've finally participated in an ancient rite of winter, linking us to children we've read about in history, whose only concept of ice skating was outdoors. And though I've known for some time that I love snow in winter, tonight I finally learned to appreciate bitter cold spells, for giving us thick, safe ice for a chaos-free skate in the brisk night air.