Saturday, September 29, 2007

Fall chores

It's been a beautiful fall day, with some sunshine to warm things up. A great day for the sort of chores that need to be done in the fall. I pruned back the cedar boughs overhanging the driveway that, once laden with snow, would have obstructed our passage down the lane. Chuck felled a dead birch tree the other day that was poised to topple itself in the first wet snow, narrowly avoiding the plum tree and narrowly almost avoiding the garden fence. (Not a big problem -- it's just a teeny leetle section that's now in need of replacing.) So today Noah (red shirt) helped split some of the wood for the woodstove with Fiona and Sophie looking on.

In the foreground is the rink liner. We had it out today to patch any holes and to measure and stake out its position come December on the most level section of lawn. For two or three years I flooded a rink the old-fashioned way (pack the snow down, and then apply small layers of water until a seal forms on the snow, then flood more aggressively). But I found it demoralizing, because while we have cold enough weather for a rink most of the winter, we're subject to occasional days even in mid-January where the temperature heads well above freezing. And on our sloping property that means that the precious rink surface melts a little and then forms drain holes, allowing most of the rink to flow away downhill. And I'd be starting back from scratch, facing another two weeks of 2 a.m. flooding... only to face another thaw just days after we finally got a skateable surface.

So several years ago we bought a rink liner kit. It was brilliant for the first two years. You take some time to put together the edging and lay out the liner. Then you turn the hose on and leave it, come back 8 hours later and turn off the hose, and wait three days. Easy peasy. If we got a stretch of warm weather, the water would just stay put and re-freeze. It developed a few holes each season, whether from deer walking across it while it was freezing or melting, or from skates going through not-quite frozen bits. Those holes needed to be patched with white duct tape in the fall with the weather relatively warm and dry, but that's been no big deal. But for the last two years the rink has been a no-go, because of the Abominable Dog. We just knew that she'd be out there running right through the not-yet-frozen rink, making multiple claw-holes with every step. It was a sure thing, and it wasn't worth the heartache.

This winter, though, with the AD re-homed, we'll be able to flood with impunity. So today was also a day to get the rink liner out, clean it and dry it off and get the holes from the last skating season patched. Fiona is already planning her Skating Party for her 5th birthday in January. A backyard skating rink is indeed a magical thing.


  1. We used to ice-skate down at the basketball courts at Fairview Park when I was a girl. The Town of Normal would flood them every year for skating. They funded the work through the sales of hot chocolate and popcorn to hungry skaters.

    We never had a home rink, though! What a great idea. After two years without, I'm sure all of you will be happy to be able to skate in the yard this winter!

    And how is the AD doing in the new home? It sounds like it has worked out well for all involved!

  2. We have no idea how the Abominable Dog is doing. She moved about an hour and a half away to her new family, and they've changed their e-mail address, so we haven't had any contact since a couple of days after she left, when it was just a couple of quick questions and sounding pretty positive. We assume she's doing well with some professional training ... but we're really almost afraid to ask. For Chuck's birthday yesterday, Sophie had found him a T-shirt that said "Life is good ... Dog gone." How true a sentiment!


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