Today I went skating on a pond not far from my house. The weather has been cold enough all week for the pond to be safe and it was a beautiful experience. The ice was so clear you could see the dead water lily pads on the bottom.
The last time I ventured onto ice outdoors was 13 years ago when I lived in Canada. We lived in a house in the middle of the bush which was inaccessible by car in the winter. We had to sledge down the track on GT racing sledges, shopping stuck in bags along with any other gear. I spent one month cross-country skiing to and from work. It really was cross country in that I had to batter out the tracks with my skis. My husband worked for a tree surgeon based in Muskoka. His first job required accessing the property by skidoos crossing a lake. The brashings were burnt by making a huge bonfire on the lake. The ice was so thick, the fire didn’t melt through it.
Scotland also has a proud historic association with ice which continues this day. Grantown-on-Spey has an outdoor curling rink and when the temperature plunges and the ice reaches the Official Safe Depth, many people come for a bonspiel. The island of Ailsa Craig, off the Ayrshire Coast is famed for its rock which makes decent curling stones.
Finally I think back fondly to Sweden. There are almost 200 forest schools, mostly nurseries, where learning to ice skate outdoors is regarded as a key outdoor activity in winter. Tomorrow when I head to my city school, I will day dream of joining those children making the most of the cold weather and bright skies to appreciate the sheer joy of wrapping up warm and skating in the sunshine.