Every winter when the temperature out side dropped below freezing my dad would get out his warmest duds. He would wait till the late evening to start flooding the pond across the tracks. About two hundred yards behind our house was the first set of train tracks. When you crossed over the tracks there was a wooded area and then another set of tracks about 500 yards in. In the the middle of the wooded area between the two set of tracks was a small marsh like pond. It wasn’t really deep and was always grown up with lots of cattail reeds and bushes. My dad would take his scythe and head across to the pond to clear all the debris away in order to flood it for a skating rink. He would wait til after 10 o’clock in evening because he knew the last train had past for the night. He would hook several garden hose together and string them from the house across the tracks and all the way into the woods to the marsh pond. He would spend several nights repeating this until he announced us kids, “The pond is ready and you guys can skate on it now.”
I would be bubbling over with excitement all week, I practiced spinning around in my dads woolen socks on the hallway floor, doing twirls and figure eights. Then I was faced with another year of disappointment by the words of my mother, “You are not going across the tracks, you are still to little”. I wanted to skate with my brothers and sisters. I wanted to show them all my fancy moves I learned in the hallway. I was devastated that I would have to wait for another whole year, because I knew I was ready. I started bugging, I want skates,I want to go too, I’m bigger now and I already know how. Nothing worked. My mother held tight on her decision that I could not go.
Not long after a few episodes of me crying for hours and hours my dad came up with a plan. He was going to make me my own rink right in my own backyard. He braved the cold again night after night, flooding a low area in the yard until I had the most beautiful rink of my very own. I still had one problem,I had no skates. I tried every pair in the house on and none fit me. I thought to myself should I or shouldn’t I bug for something else. For once I made the wise choice and settled on being happy with skating on my boots. I figured at this point I had something great and I would be happy with that. I spent hours and hours outside sliding and spinning. I felt like a winter ballerina dancing on glass. It was as crystal clear as the love I had for my dad and all he had done for me. It would soon be Christmas and I was excited about Santa coming but the funny thing about that year was I didn’t ask for skates. It didn’t seem important because I was loving skating just the way it was.
One day about a week before Christmas my dad came in the house from work with a box tucked under his arm. I over heard him asking my mother,”Should we give these to her now.” I could see in his eye the same look I get when I can’t hold back any longer. He was jumping up and down inside just like I do. My mother looked at him and said, “I guess because I don’t think you can wait.” “Carolin” he said with a little half grin, “I have something for you but, I don’t think you are going to want them.” “Yes! Yes! I do want my surprise Daddy.” He popped open the box and there they were the most beautiful pair of bob skates I ever seen. Between the excitement and me squeezing him so tight I think we both lost our breath for a moment. My dad and myself got dressed in our winter clothes and boots. He sat me on the snow bank around the edge of my icy glass rink. He buckled my bob skates to my boots and stood me up on the ice. He handed me the old corn broom to steady myself. I felt like I was the luckiest girl in the world but, not because I had skates or a rink. I was the luckiest little girl in the world because he was my daddy and no one else. Well, he was my brothers and sisters dad too but that was OK because I was everyone’s baby.