Since I was a kid, the farm pond has made for good skating when conditions are just right. This is the first year in several when decent ice has formed. The last few winters snow ruined the ice as fast as the pond froze. We’ve had an open, warm winter so far. Just recently the temperatures dropped enough to make safe ice. My skating buddies Holly and Otto joined me on an afternoon when the temperature was just above freezing, the sky deep blue and the sun beaming down. The weather is so mild it’s like no winter at all!
The horses, Vista and Maddie, hang around to see what will happen. Perhaps some hay or grain or an apple will fall from my pocket while I’m skating. Horses live in a dreamworld of eternal hope.
The ice is white, full of air bubbles. The surface is fairly smooth, except where cattails protrude making skating obstacles. Some winters when we have sudden very cold, still weather the whole pond freezes with black ice. The surface seems made of glass.
Aquatic animals can be viewed as they go about their slow lives beneath the ice. I’ve watched the resident painted turtles’ sluggish movements and seen water boatmen and other insects eke out a chilly existence. In very cold years the pond freezes right to the mud. The water creatures must burrow into the muck to survive.The pond is about 1/6 acre with a seasonal inlet that flows when the water table is sufficiently high. The constant slow movement keeps one small area of open water available for the horses to drink. If the temperatures drop too low or the snow gets too deep, this inlet also freezes. Then the horses must walk farther for water to a spring below the pond.
The pond holds myriad memories of years gone by: my brothers and me learning to skate–falling and hitting my head on the ice so hard I literally saw stars, my husband and me when we were young and childless playing on the ice in the moonlight, my daughter as a little girl bundled with padding and a helmet as she learned to skate. Now my granddaughter Lia takes her turn finding out about the joys of pond ice. She will soon tie on the skates and start another generation of ice lovers.