Saturday, January 16, 2016

Old Skates Full of Memories

Besides the pine desk my grandfather made me one year for Christmas being one of my most favorite Christmas presents ever, my white figure skates are on that list as well. Little did I know that particular Christmas morning, as I sat on my knees in the living room of a house situated alongside a lane, with my grandmother watching me open a box and finding the skates underneath sheets of tissue paper, that many years later I'd remember that moment when opening the box as if it was yesterday. I'd asked for the skates. I'd seen them sitting on a sled in a window of a hardware store in our downtown when out Christmas shopping with my mother. The skates were just as I imagined. I knew they were for me.

Shortly after that Christmas we moved out to the country. Lucky for me and my skates there was a creek that flowed through the field behind our house and cousins next door who loved to skate. In the winter once the creek froze over, we were down there whenever possible. That meant after school, on weekends, and in the evenings. I can't remember ever being cold. We'd be having too much fun-zooming along at top speed, twirling, racing, eating snow and ice pellets, pretending we were in the Olympics, etching designs in the ice with the tips of our skates. Whenever it snowed, we'd shovel paths all about the creek and then skate along them as if they were roads on top of the ice, leading to anywhere we wished to go, anywhere around the world. It was always fun to look down through the ice at weeds and creek grass frozen in place. It was like having a huge frozen water globe all to ourselves. In fact, we did have it all to ourselves. A few times we'd pack a lunch including hot chocolate and follow the creek as it wove through the field, under fences, around rocks and trees. Our journey took forever. There was a lot of exploring to be done.

Skating under the moon and stars was my favorite time. We were never afraid of the looming shadows or the wind howling through the barren trees. They added to the backdrop. And as the wind sang its lonely song my cousin and I would lay on top of the ice and talk and dream and take in the glittering beauty surrounding us. Those millions of stars were the most glittering stars I've ever seen enhanced by the mysterious-the magical moon.

Although I no longer use my skates, I still have them with me. They've survived moves from one place to another. They've been kept in closets, garages, boxes, trunks of cars. I even lost track of them a few times. But through it all, they've survived. While they've lost their youth, I still see them as I did that Christmas of long ago. And this past Christmas I put them on display with an old sleigh for all to see-especially me.

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