I love living in a place with distinct seasons. What I particularly love is that just when I start to really, really enjoy something – swimming in the river, gardening, snowshoeing, falling leaves – it’s gone. Skating on the Rideau Canal in Burritt’s Rapids is like that. And its fleeting and unpredictable nature makes me appreciate it that much more.
The weather has been a roller coaster this year, from -20 to +8, never staying steady long enough to sustain ice suitable for skating. The upside of this most recent temperature pop was a quick melt and a quick freeze, leaving behind a glasslike surface that erased everything but the deepest curlicue tracks, traces of snowmobilers gone wild.
My daughter and I were first out this morning, rewarded by a glorious sunrise, a low winter sun that strew long shadows across the ice.
Although we brought shovels, no snowclearing was necessary. It was possible to skate from the village’s swing bridge almost to the lockstation, a rarity of length and a reflection of the excellent conditions. Just steps from the clumps of shore grasses and bullrushes, a fine small rink was cleared and hockey nets installed, a brilliant spot for the littlest of the village and their families.
The occasional car rumbled over the swing bridge but otherwise we were left alone with the rhythmic scrape and swoosh of our blades. We skated back and forth and back again, falling into a zen-like reverie as the sun warmed our faces and reddened our cheeks.
These are the days for making memories – unplanned, opportunistic and ephemeral. These are the days we all remember, which leave us yearning for more.