Friday, January 6, 2012

Get Your Skates On

Come this Friday and skating returns to Margaretville (not skateboarding either for all who think the weather might stand in the way of actual ice).

The village has a winter tradition of free ice skating in the village park (behind Freshtown and by the pavilion). The rink is ad hoc, made of hay bales and custom liner filled with water turned into, of course, ice. It’s set up by a team of volunteers headed by Mike and Becky Porter. I can’t say enough good things about the two of them; he rode his bike across the country after two year’s of cancer treatment, was science teacher at MCS and is president of the volunteer fire department. (He also cuts a fine figure in the department’s dress uniform). And, where it comes to dress or dressing, Becky can dress a deer on the way to church on Sunday (she has before) and is a skater and skier. As Mike says, he’s just there doing her bidding. He does not actually skate but wants to encourage everyone to get outside. To make sure you can, the Porters have skates on their back porch (at the corner of Orchard and Academy Street in the village) for anyone to borrow.

The rink is open anytime you feel like coming and having a skate. To keep the ice smooth they use something called a “wand,” a four-foot garden hose attachment that sprays a thin stream of water on top. That’s all it takes to get the Zamboni effect. On Wednesday the ice was at least two inches thick, Mike reports. “Not quite good enough yet.” Because of the weather he suggests skating in the evenings and early mornings when it’s cold. And in the early morning you’re likely to catch Becky there too. That’s her favorite time to hit the ice.

Skating when it’s too warm makes it both hard to skate and is hard on the ice, which, given that the rink is run by volunteers, makes them work harder too. Plus, if you come when it’s dark out, there’s a light on a post by the rink that you can turn on yourself, anytime you want. So if you fancy a romantic midnight skating jaunt…

The rink will be up, “Until,” Mike says, “mother nature says ‘no.’” Which here in the Western Catskills means February.

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