It’s set at the edge of town, on a street that seems to be permanently under construction. The parking lot is a small lake with islands of gravel scattered about. The skates are in the trunk of the car, together with the bike helmet. I have barely turned the ignition off before she is waiting by the trunk. I chase her to the warming house. She is in such a hurry.
Skates on, helmet buckled, winter coat shed in favor of a heavy fleece, she insists on waiting at the door while the Zamboni does its thing. We traverse the small patio between the warming house and the rink. The rink is installed inside a pavilion–there is a concrete footprint encircling the oval and a high pitched roof above. Melting ice and snow creates a nearly constant run of water from pavilion roof to floor.
The weather is surprisingly warm–in the fifties, and the melt has caused the walls of the rink to fog up. When the teachers open the door to the rink, she pushes to the front of the line, and skates into a rink immersed in thin fog. Everything looks like an old fashioned movie.
They begin their paces and I head back to the warming house to read. A few minutes in and it starts pouring down rain. Lightening splits the sky and a grumble of thunder shakes me. I look up. The staff don’t seem worried. I remember that pools close in lightening. Shouldn’t a semi-outdoor arena do the same? Nobody moves. In the ice rink, I can still see faint outlines of kids in pink and purple coats, moving through the fogged up plastic.
After a bit I go back to watch her, racing through the downpour. I can’t see a thing through the plastic walls, so I wiggle through to the penalty box and join the other parents that have sat there.
There is even more fog filling the rink by now. Great wafts of steam rise from the ice; the children are floating without feet through the mist. They fall and disappear from view, popping up a few minutes later–laughing and red faced.
Selam is playing some sort of a tag game with her friend. I can’t quite make out the rules, but the are laughing and chasing each other on the ice. A young teen–maybe 13–practices alone in the corner. She grabs the blade of her skate and twirls so slowly and precisely.
The session comes to a close and the children are herded back to the door. I scurry to catch up with her, but miss out. She is in the warming house with one skate off by the time I get there.
“What did you think of the loud thunder you heard?”
“I didn’t hear thunder.”
“You missed that loud bang?”
“I just thought it was the sound of me falling.”