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First Skate

I made a backyard rink again this year. The effort might be an act of sheer folly, considering that the El Niño climate pattern foretells a warmer-than-usual winter this year in the Northeast.

But as my friend and hockey buddy Greg points out, making and maintaining a backyard rink is an extreme labor of love in a good year. So rather than being a measure of my folly, perhaps my efforts are a measure of the extent of my love.

But love for what?

Fun? Exercise? Sport? The game of hockey? The camaraderie of fellow rink rats? The raw natural beauty of winter? All of these are wonderful, but they don’t quite capture the essence of what outdoor skating means to me.

Outdoor skating is a meditation.

I also enjoy skating at indoor public arenas from time to time, but there, the crowds and the pedestrian radio songs blared over the loudspeakers are anything but meditative.

But stepping onto a sheet of velvety ice in your own backyard, in the early morning blue hour, when it’s twenty degrees below freezing… this is bliss.

This morning, as I skated on my little rink for the first time of the season, a little mantra wafted through my mind:

Today is the first day of the rest of your life.

It’s one of those clichés—similar to carpe diem—that I first heard long ago, but have since lost track of. And then, like a déjà vu, here it was again. Hello, old friend. I’m not sure exactly how it pertains to my current life (though I have some aspirations), but it was nice to chew on while I gently cut my figure 8’s.