And Then Came the Snowstorm, by Rich Paschall
“Can we build an ice rink in your backyard? The kids have nowhere to practice.”
Two years ago my neighbor asked if he could build an ice rink in our backyard. He has a relatively small yard due to a backyard deck and an oversize garage. We have no garage and no deck. There is much more room. We agreed and he built a large frame and covered the ground with a large tarp. I have no idea where he could find a tarp that size. He certainly needed one piece or it would leak when he tried to fill it with water. It took over a day with his garden hose running continuously.
“Due to the pandemic all the ice rinks are closed and there is no junior hockey for the kids. They would like a place to practice,” my neighbor told me this year. He still had the framework from two years ago. All he had to do was find another tarp he said. We agreed and he built again. Now that we all have metered water I would guess that cost a lot of money, but I digress. This time the children were not so small. They baked cookies for me and sent thank you notes with holiday drawings which I, of course, put on my refrigerator with some magnets. Isn’t that what you are supposed to do with children’s drawings? Fortunately, I have a lot of refrigerator magnets.
The first time my neighbor built the rink we had arctic weather immediately after the rink was filled with water. The ice froze solid in a day and the kids were out the following day and often during the season. The rink was a hit.
This year was different. After the rink was built and filled with water, the temperature during the day continued to be at or above freezing. After a few days, the rink seemed to freeze, but when the children tried to use it, they could hear crackling. It was not frozen all the way to the bottom. We never had a hard freeze and it is likely the ground was too warm. Late December turned to late January. The weather did not co-operate.
While we were waiting, leaves blew into the water and sticks fell from the trees. We tried to pick out anything that was floating. I had one of those grabbers you use to get things off high shelves, but that left the middle vulnerable. The sunny days above freezing meant the water was evaporating and we had to add more several times. I was about to give up on any idea there would be ice skating in the backyard this year. Then it happened.
It got a little colder and the ice froze. The kids came out to play. They brought over a large hockey goal for practice. The father had put up netting at the far end so pucks would not fly out. Everything seemed perfect…for a couple days.
Then it started to snow. The kids came out for one more go on the ice. Nine inches were predicted. When the snow totals hit nine, it kept right on snowing. When the storm moved east it continued to snow. We live near one of the Great Lakes and if the wind comes down the length of Lake Michigan in the winter, it deposits “lake effect” snow inland, sometimes far enough to reach us. We got about a foot of snow.
The question, now, is if someone wanted to do the huge amount of work it would take to clear an area large enough for skating, where would they put all the snow? My neighbor did a lot of work for just a few days of skating.