Almost every morning I watch the sun rise over the Potomac River. Bands of pink, orange, red, aqua, grey, white, and, finally, sometimes, azure amaze me. The sky amazes me so much that I remember to mention the beauty of nature in my daily words of gratitude.
I wish I had a river I could skate away on Years ago, while getting ready for a move, my husband almost threw away my ice skates. Although I was shocked and upset, it was not an unreasonable idea he had. The skates probably hadn’t fit me since some time in my early teens and they were dirty beige, not the preferred pristine white. I carried the skates as a talisman with which I hoped could conjure up perfection like that to be found skating on a winter’s night. Maybe I thought that I couldn’t remember without tangible proof. (Note: I finally parted with the skates about six years ago).
Once more to the lake Early in the winter there might be a night when the lake was frozen solid and there was just a dusting of snow to keep the ice from being too slick. I did not have to teach my feet to fly. I could skate from our house to the other end of the lake in magic time.
On the lake my brothers would make a hockey rink that they would use until there was too much hardened snow to shovel off. They also fished through the ice using something they called a tip-up. For more fun, every winter and then again every spring we would walk out on the ice as far as we could before it cracked and broke. One time out on the ice in front of our house, my brother Mike really fell through the ice and I saved him with a hockey stick.
Later on in the winter when the ice was many inches thick, my oldest brother, Roger, would drive his junker car fast on the ice and then hit the brakes. I’m not sure my parents knew about that trick.
Also Before our family moved to the lake, in the winter my father would make an ice rink in the back of our Detroit house so we and the neighbor kids could skate. I was little and my dad would lace up my skates for me. The tears are running down my cheeks now and if I were outside in Michigan winter, the tears would be freezing as they ran. Our parents would take us to Lola Valley to skate or the Redford skating rink and by ourselves we could go down to the Rosedale club house to skate. It was always freezing cold, hard, sharp, and perfect. At the Redford skating rink I did put my tongue on the metal fence. It did hurt, but I got it loose in time to avoid something horrible.
The skates I carried with me for so many years were a metaphor for winter just as hickory nuts, dried plants, rocks, and shells were metaphors for the other seasons of my childhood.
I go into 2019 with trepidation about the state of human rights, our government, and the environment. I don’t have my skates or hickory nuts anymore, but I have retained much of the optimism from my happy childhood. So, I can say with some joy and hope: Happy New Year!
*(adapted from Losing It: Deconstructing a Life, unpublished work © Lynda Terrill, all rights reserved)