Since moving to Colorado, I’ve wanted to join the throngs of people skating at Evergreen Lake. On this crisp, sunny day, hundreds of people came out for a recreational skate. A tall, blonde figure skater remarked about a kid wearing a Sabres’ jersey, and I learned that she was from Buffalo and her friend from Rochester. I saw kids in goalie pads, and toddlers getting pep talks from mom and dad.
For me, it was a throwback to youth. I grew up on skates. The Eastridge pond was easily accessible by cutting through neighbor yards. I started lacing ’em up when I was just 3. Back then, the pond was lit at night. For years, December through March, skating on the pond was an every day occurrence. After school, my friends and I would play hockey until dark, ignoring Mom’s calls for dinner. She was convinced I couldn’t hear her, so she would turn on the outside lantern as a bat-signal to get my butt home. On weekends, we would skate nearly all day, doing our best impressions of Bobby Orr, Rod Gilbert, Bobby Hull or Gordie Howe.
The last time I went skating was New Year’s Eve, 2008, with Jim and Stefanie Gramkee at Manhattan Square Park in Rochester. I’ve moved those skates a dozen times since, and today, I would finally lace them up and skate on this fabulous natural resource. Evergreen Lake is the largest Zamboni-maintained outdoor rink in the world.
It was tough going. On the first lap around the long free skating rink, my legs burned. I fell a few times. I got winded. I felt old.
After a spill, another skater asked if I was okay, and I told her, “Yeah, I just fell on my ego.” The admission to the ice rink was a $7 lesson in mortality. It may have been my last time ice skating. If so, it was a glorious place to take a last lap.