Middlebury, Vt.

Life in the middle of Vermont.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Making Lemonade on the Lemon Fair

When life gives you lemons, the saying goes, make lemonade.

So it is that on a Sunday afternoon, instead of returning from cross-country at Reichert or snowboarding at Sugarbush, we are heading west into the sunset – to go ice skating.

For those of us who spend the season playing outdoors, the torrential rain that washed away most of the early winter’s snow a couple of weeks ago had one huge benefit: It flooded hayfields all over Addison County. That, combined with two weeks of frigid temperatures, has created miles and miles of skating lanes where once there was only snow and grassy stubble.

We drive west on 125, headed for fields along the Lemon Fair River.

Walking north and carrying our skates, we come first to ice that cracks easily under our weight. But we’re not worried. We can see the grass underneath the ice, just a couple of inches down.

At last we are out far enough on the ice that, while we can still see the grass underneath, there has been enough of a flood to create a solid sheet of ice, which holds us steadily.

Placing our fleece-covered bottoms on the glassy surface, we tug on our hockey skates, then clamber to our feet.

Out ahead of us there are hundreds of yards of ice. Tentatively at first, then picking up speed, we go zooming across the surface, arms swinging.

Yes, it’s bumpy. No Zambonis here to smooth the surface, as at the municipal rink and the college fieldhouse. We’re skating on what Mother Nature gave us.

Not only are there bumps. In the process of icing over and thickening, the flooded fields have cracked, leaving long seams where the ice rises abruptly an inch or two on to the next gigantic plate. And in a process I don’t really understand, even the smooth stretches of ice rise in gentle rolls, creating differences of 6 inches or more in height.

Despite the vast skating distances out on the field, eventually we go looking for new frontiers.

At the edge of the field is a frozen ditch, three feet deep. On the other side of the ditch, waiting to be explored, is a flooded forest.

We test the icy banks of the ditch. They seem solid enough. We decide to try crossing the ditch, hoping there is not frigid water at the bottom. We’re glad to find it’s a solid down there.

From the bottom, it takes most of our upper-body strength to pull us up the slick other side of the ditch. Finally we clamber up the other side.

Again hoisting ourselves up on the uncertain runners of our skates, we take a few tentative strides -- and begin skating through the woods.

Soon we are slaloming through the trees – taking one to our left, one to our right, around a stump here, sprinting to the next opening.

“I’ve done a lot of tree skiing before,” I say to my skating partner. “But this is the first time I’ve ever been tree skating.”

The westering sun shoots gentle yellow beams through the tree limbs. We not just navigating through trees on the edge of a field. This is a Fairy Forest, and we are skate sprites exploring our domain.

I’m thinking of the times when I was a boy and my father would take my brother and me skating along an abandoned stretch of the year a canal, in the western New York town where we grew up.

Dad was a busy country doctor. But occasionally he could sneak out on a Wednesday afternoon for an outdoor skate with his sons. At home, my mother would have hot chocolate for us before dinner.

As I’m skating the Cornwall field and forest, all the time I’ve been eyeing the Lemon Fair.

In fact, I’ve had my inner eye on it much longer than just today. I’ve fantasized about skating on that river for years, and have never done it.

I’ve spent enough time on the ice out here to know it’s thick enough. “You only live once,” I remind myself.

I lie down on the ice, spread my limbs, and slide off onto the surface of the river.
Standing up and beginning to skate, I find that I’ve been missing the best ice of all.

Though covered with a bit of snow, the surface is almost smooth. I skate hundreds of yards in one distance upstream, then a good bit downstream. My states make little V-shapes in the snow, scratchings of where I’ve been.

Off to the west out there over the Adirondacks, the sun is sinking, a fat fireball.

As it recedes, it shoots a giant skyrocket over red light straight up over the river. If I died right now, it would be OK.

Finally back in the car as it grows dark, I head toward town, the Grateful Dead’s “Sugar Magnolia” on the stereo: “Saw my baby down by the river.”

Pulling into the co-op parking lot, I spy a bumper sticker that just about says it all:
“Savor Every Second.”

-- 30 --

Labels: , , , ,


Blogger hu said...

This would make a great winter olympic event (and it combines rain and winter). Was that a remnant of the first route of the Erie Canal that you skated on? Keep up the good work.

9:33 AM  
Blogger John said...

jordan concords
the north face jackets
rolex watches outlet
pandora jewelry
ugg australia
celine bags
michael kors handbags
jordan retro
coach outlet
air max 90
louis vuitton outlet
christian louboutin
abercrombie and fitch
the north face outlet
coach outlet
michaek kors handbags
cheap uggs
oakley sunglasses wholesale
cheap jordans
prada outlet
ugg boots on sale
north face uk
coach outlet
coach outlet store online
ugg outlet
michael kors outlet online
air max 95
concords 11
marc jacobs
replica watches
hollister jeans
adidas superstar
canada goose jackets
adidas originals
coach outlet online
coach factory outlet
michaek kors outlet
lebron james shoes
louis vuitton outlet

3:13 AM  
Blogger ninest123 said...

ninest123 16.01
true religion jeans, air max pas cher, longchamp, timberland, nike air max, converse pas cher, nike blazer, michael kors uk, vans pas cher, north face, sac guess, sac burberry, nike air force, ray ban sunglasses, polo ralph lauren, hollister, north face, true religion outlet, coach outlet store online, michael kors outlet, louboutin, lululemon outlet online, ralph lauren, abercrombie and fitch, true religion outlet, michael kors, true religion jeans, nike huaraches, air max, nike free, longchamp, oakley pas cher, michael kors pas cher, hollister, new balance pas cher, sac hermes, air jordan, nike roshe run pas cher, mulberry, hogan outlet, ray ban pas cher, replica handbags, nike tn, nike roshe, vanessa bruno, nike free pas cher, nike trainers, air max, sac longchamp pas cher, coach purses, polo lacoste

12:41 AM  
Blogger ninest123 said...

tory burch outlet, jordan shoes, oakley sunglasses, michael kors outlet, oakley sunglasses, michael kors outlet, chanel handbags, longchamp outlet, uggs outlet, ugg boots clearance, burberry outlet, tiffany and co, nike shoes, michael kors outlet online sale, louis vuitton, cheap uggs, prada outlet, oakley sunglasses, polo ralph lauren outlet, louis vuitton handbags, michael kors outlet, replica watches, ray ban sunglasses, nike free, ugg outlet, louboutin outlet, ray ban sunglasses, louis vuitton outlet, oakley sunglasses cheap, cheap oakley sunglasses, air max, tiffany and co, louis vuitton outlet, ray ban sunglasses, louboutin shoes, longchamp handbags, burberry outlet, longchamp handbags, prada handbags, louis vuitton outlet stores, air max, uggs, michael kors outlet, polo ralph lauren, michael kors outlet, louboutin, rolex watches, gucci outlet, christian louboutin

12:43 AM  
Blogger ninest123 said...

soccer shoes, bottega veneta, instyler, iphone 6s plus cases, converse, nfl jerseys, soccer jerseys, iphone 6s cases, mcm handbags, p90x, jimmy choo outlet, baseball bats, ghd, north face jackets, iphone 6 plus cases, iphone 6 cases, ipad cases, hollister clothing store, air max, babyliss pro, chi flat iron, iphone cases, beats by dre, valentino shoes, timberland boots, mac cosmetics, vans shoes, celine handbags, insanity workout, asics running shoes, ferragamo shoes, wedding dresses, north face outlet, abercrombie and fitch, oakley, ralph lauren, air max, mont blanc, lululemon outlet, reebok outlet, abercrombie, s6 case, gucci, herve leger, ray ban, birkin bag, new balance shoes, iphone 5s cases, vans, nike roshe run, louboutin, giuseppe zanotti

12:46 AM  
Blogger ninest123 said...

hollister, ugg, canada goose, moncler, pandora jewelry, rolex watches, montre homme, moncler, sac lancel, thomas sabo, moncler, swarovski crystal, sac louis vuitton, ugg, louis vuitton, links of london, barbour, moncler, juicy couture outlet, moncler outlet, canada goose, ugg pas cher, converse shoes, pandora jewelry, louis vuitton, doke gabbana, swarovski, coach outlet store online, pandora charms, canada goose, moncler, canada goose, juicy couture, pandora charms, supra shoes, moncler, canada goose uk, canada goose, ugg, marc jacobs, moncler, ugg boots, canada goose outlet, sac louis vuitton, canada goose jackets, barbour, wedding dresses, karen millen, toms shoes, louis vuitton uk
ninest123 16.01

12:48 AM  
Blogger dong dong23 said...

nike air max
toms shoes
asics running shoes
replica watches for sale
coach outlet store online
kate spade
louis vuitton
polo ralph shirts
ralph lauren
michael kors outlet
coach factory outlet
louis vuitton outlet
nfl jerseys wholesale
tods outlet
louis vuitton
mont blanc pens
adidas stan smith
jordan 13
beats headphones
tods shoes
michael kors handbags
michael kors outlet
coach outlet store online
jordan retro
jordan 4 toro
hollister kids
polo ralph lauren
ray bans
louis vuitton outlet
ray ban outlet
air jordans
louis vuitton handbags
cheap oakley sunglasses
cheap oakley sunglasses
cheap toms shoes
hollister uk
ray bans
louis vuitton outlet stores
michael kors outlet online

1:43 AM  
Blogger dong dong23 said...

nike air max
the north face
ugg boots
north face
kate spade outlet
beats by dre
coach outlet
uggs outlet
ugg outlet

7:25 AM  
Blogger Yaro Gabriel said...

mulberry handbags
polo ralph lauren
ugg boots clearance
calvin klein jeans
jazz jerseys
michael kors
swarovski crystal
ray ban sunglasses

10:19 PM  
Blogger Fghkfhk Dfgaert said...

jordan shoes
canada goose outlet
ugg boots
five fingers shoes
manchester united jersey
michael kors outlet
pandora jewelry
pandora charms
polo shirts
tods outlet

8:50 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home