A mostly blind person shared a fear of his with me recently. He asked the question: if you lose your vision, will you also lose your memories? I tend to think if they’re good memories, they’ll stay with you. And the others don’t matter. But I’m glad I write my memories down–just in case.

With our second snowfall of the year, memories of growing up with winter activities slushed its way into my brain. Share my childhood memories and one  beautiful ice skating experience with me…

 

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Ice Skater’s Delight
 We had lovely and very active winters in northwestern Pennsylvania where I grew up. There were plenty of hills and toboggan slides near my house to play on after a heavy snowfall. But what I enjoyed most was the pond below my house. When it froze over, the neighborhood kids would get together and shovel enough snow to the slides so that we could skate on it. The municipality eventually built us a shelter where we changed into and out of our skates. They even provided a small electric heater.

In blustery afternoons, we bundled up and headed for the pond. We all came those days–boys and girls, kids and teenagers.

Kids, teens and adults came to pond  where I grew up.
Teenagers brought their kid brothers and sisters to the pond to skate.
We made short work of the shoveling. The older and braver ones soon played “Crack the Whip.” Others, like myself skated nearby or watched them. The tough guys skidded around on their sporty black skates, and the teenage girls flirted. That usually resulted in the teenage boys throwing packed snowballs at them as they chased them over the ice. The girls shrieked as they dodged snowballs or tried to avoid getting the cold stuff down their backs. I glided around and watched it all second-hand–my eyelashes frosted over with snow. What wonderful afternoons! I called up my neighbor, “Come on, Kathy! The pond’s frozen over again!”
A lot of showing off went on at the pond when we skated!
A lot of showing off went on at the pond when we skated!
I remember one brilliant night when I went down to skate by myself just after dinner, around 6 pm. The biting cold sliced through my ski jacket and whistled up my sleeves as I fiddled with the key to unlock the shelter door.
I turned that on, and sat down on one of the benches to change into my skates. As I laced up my last skate, a surge of excitement went through me.I made my way out of the shed and clunked down the snowy incline that bordered the pond.
 I was gliding in the fresh, night air. The pond had been shoved earlier, and the streetlights shone on the ice.
I avoided the bumps, but skated easily on the smoother ice.
As I skated, I wondered if I could skate backwards. So after a good forward lead, I turned and took a few hesitant steps backwards. I was doing it!  I tried doing a few figure eights then skating backward. I practiced again and again.
I was Dorothy Hamil, skating in front of an adoring crowd...
I was Dorothy Hamil, skating in front of an adoring crowd…

The pond became an Olympic arena and I was Dorothy Hamill. I arched my neck, held my head high and my arms out, propelling me effortlessly along the ice. I leaned down until I almost touched the ice with my chin. Then I straightened up and with long, firm strides, circled the pond.

 I arched my neck, held my head high and my arms out, propelling me effortlessly along the ice. I leaned down until I almost touched the ice with my chin.
Then I straightened up and with long, firm strides, circled the pond. My (invisible) awestruck audience clapped wildly, which spurred me on to attempt a jump–of course, a half-circle twirl–which, unfortunately landed me with a painful bang on my behind.
The audience faded away and the music disappeared. I was just a sixteen-year-old skating on a pond below the house in the evening light. And one with an aching behind still on the ice.
 But so what? Even the best fall, right?
I picked myself up and marveled at my ability to maneuver on blades. I loved skating backwards. So effortless. Giving a little bow, I felt free and alive!
An hour later, the cold crept through my various layers of clothing, snuck into the joints of my gloved hand and settled down into my toes. Time to get off the ice. I changed out of my skates, shut off the lights and heater, and then carefully locked the door. With my white skates slung over my shoulder, I crunched back up the crusty, snow-covered road that led home. I savored the feeling that came over me whenever I finished skating. Before long,  I was ready to change from my wet blue jeans and drink a cup of hot chocolate with marshmallows.
Looking back, I don’t think that night could have been any more perfect!
Even back then, God was preparing me to take my falls. And to rise again.
To marvel about the skills that I had, and not worry about what I couldn’t do. What strikes me now with my vision loss is that I have such a beautiful memory of a nighttime experience.  At sixteen, I didn’t know what I wasn’t seeing. But God brought me joy.
 Perhaps what God wants me to focus on is not the physical agility I imagined I had. It’s to know that in my increasing darkness He can bathe me in His light and bring exquisite beauty to my life anyway – if my mind and heart are agile and trusting.
Ice Skater’s Delight
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12 thoughts on “Ice Skater’s Delight

  • December 13, 2014 at 3:43 am
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    Hi Dorothy Hamil,

    Your article brought back many found memories of when I used to ice skate on Grays Creek. But most times I sunk to the bottom. August is not really a good month to ice skate. But when the creek did freeze, we had many fun days playing ice hockey. Of course, I couldn’t see the puck. It didn’t matter to me, though. I just loved wielding my hockey stick and the freedom I felt speeding around the creek. I had forgotten those days but relived some of them as I read your blog.

  • December 13, 2014 at 3:49 am
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    Amy, this made me happy and brought back long forgotten memories of ice skating when I was just a child. Just wonderful!

  • December 13, 2014 at 4:00 am
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    What a beautiful post! God prepares each of us in different ways. Thank you for sharing how God is using you and preparing you!
    Looking forward to reading more!

  • December 13, 2014 at 10:28 pm
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    I see the factory pond, Lakeville. CT. 1950-54. No shelter but actual music over loud speakers and a fire to lace up and unlace by, courtesy of the town fathers.
    Can hardly walk now , let alone skate but thanks for some very special memories.

  • December 14, 2014 at 2:40 pm
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    Debbie,
    Thank you for taking time out to read my post!
    So glad it struck a chord with you and you recalled your own memories of ice skating!
    We don’t realize how wonderful our childhood is until we look back on it!
    Amy

  • December 14, 2014 at 2:45 pm
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    Hi Matt!
    Dorothy here. What’s this about skating in August? You’re so funny!
    Skating on a creek reminds me of something in Denmark or Sweden!
    Amy

  • December 14, 2014 at 2:49 pm
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    Thank you, Rebecca.
    God does but we don’t usually see it until much later!
    Please come to my blog anytime!
    Amy

  • December 14, 2014 at 3:02 pm
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    Dear Vergne,
    Thank you so much for your comment and painting a picture of your memories with those few words!
    Connecticut! It must have been wonderful to skate to actual music… I LOVE it when the town does those kinds of things for us!
    So sorry about your current situation but glad it brought back some memories to you.
    Amy

  • December 15, 2014 at 4:33 am
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    Hi Amy,

    Wonderful memories. You and Dorothy Hamil on the ice.

    Be well,

    Dave

  • December 15, 2014 at 12:36 pm
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    Dave,
    You probably grew up skating, too, didn’t you?
    Ha ha! I don’t suppose there are too many frozen ponds there. But you might find a rink!
    Thanks for reading my post!
    Amy

  • December 15, 2014 at 1:35 pm
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    Hi Dorothy,

    You brought joy to me with this post–when I skated, I imagined I was Karen Magnussen, who was my childhood hero. What I loved most however, was your conclusion. There will always be light, even in darkness.

  • December 16, 2014 at 3:17 am
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    Oh fellow skater, Karen Magnussen!
    What sweet memories! Isn’t it comforting the insights God gives us!
    Dorothy Hamill

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