Sunday, November 25, 2007

Look who's skating!

Look who got the hang of skating today! After her hour on the ice on Thursday (half of it on skates, half in boots), she said she had a good time and was enjoying learning to skate. She wobbled and slid and took a few steps by herself with encouragement. I managed to get six or eight feet away from her once, to snap a photo, but that was it. She felt too wobbly and didn't want to relinquish my hand most of the time. She took a few spills, allowed herself to be helped up, and kept smiling. She worked hard and giggled. But she wanted me there, helping.

Today, though, she was off and truckin'. I made a little circuit for her, maybe 30 metres long, drawing it in the dusting of snow on the ice. Round and round she went, getting faster and more reliable with each completed loop. The improvement over Thursday was palpable to her, and even better was the improvement she made over the course of the 45 minutes she skated today. She had cold toes but she didn't want to quit.

We got some snow today. The skating was still lovely, but it won't take much more snow before that's the end of lake skating for us. We're trying to get up there every day while it lasts.


  1. Anonymous5:01 am

    This may be a silly question, but how do you know a lake is frozen enough to safely skate on? I've only seen snow once in my lifetime!

  2. Not a silly question at all. Basically that answer is "very carefully" :-). Well, you start at the shore, where it's very shallow. If it is frozen on the surface, you prod it with a toe. If that's okay, you put your foot on. You listen for cracking sounds. If you don't hear any, you stand your full weight on the ice and start meandering along the shore trying to find a place where you can see the thickness of the ice. In the case of Fish Lake, the ice was so clear we could see right through and get a very good sense of the thickness. There are always trapped bubbles or little striations in the ice, things that you don't see in water, and with the ice clear, you can see how deep they go. I think four inches of depth is usually considered safe for human beings. The ice in Fish Lake looked to be about a foot thick, so we knew we were plenty safe. When people are ice-fishing they can use an ice auger to drill through and test the thickness with precision but we just go by look. If it starts to crack you can hear it. Ice floats, so even if it starts to crack it doesn't tend to suddenly break up and sink. It just cracks a bit and you get a bit of water leakage up around the cracks.

    Snowmobilers tend to fall through the ice sometimes because they're covering large distances quickly, not noticing changes in the look of the ice, and can't hear the warning signs over the engine. And they're so heavy with their machines that they can actually make a big hole in the ice in no time. Little people -- not likely.

    My friend David is part of an internationally-famous snow- sand- and ice-sculpting team. He was up at Fish Lake on Sunday harvesting ice for some sculpting he's doing this week. He was thrilled with the thickness and clarity and said that yeah, it was about 13 inches thick.


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