Thursday, January 17, 2013

They Grow, They Go

When I was little, we lived in a house on a hill a lake in Anchorage, Alaska.  In my mind, the hill was HUMONGOUS, a downhill slope capable of ripping off your arms if you went too fast on your saucer sled and tumbled off.  A wild ride, that hill provided hours of entertainment in the winter.  You could sled all the way down to the lake, but then the trudge back up the hill was like climbing Everest: never-ending and difficult.  Worth it for another trip down, though.


Well, the hill probably wasn’t that steep, or long, and we probably weren’t out in the many-degrees-below-zero temperatures for hours at a time, but the great thing about childhood memories is that they are so giant, you know?  The snow forts we used to build were incredible.  The snowmen were so tall, taller than the house, I am sure of it.  We had a daylight basement and I can remember mom getting us up in the middle of the night to look at a particularly spectacular showing of Aurora Borealis that, in my memory, was the most dramatic, beautiful painting of blue, green, and pink across the sky that I have ever seen, ever.  Alaska, in my mind, fits its popular characterization: a larger-than-life, over-the-top abundance of natural beauty.


The lake at the bottom of the hill was pretty great, too.  Leland and I would sled down to the bottom and mom would meet us at the little shed by the lake and get out the snowblower to blow off a patch of ice so that we could go skating.  The ice had to have been a foot thick in the dead of winter, and we had double-blade skates for stability over any irregularities in the ice. 


I was seven when we moved.  Last weekend, Charles was invited to an ice-skating birthday party at the rink in Bellingham and a part of me that is so far removed from that little girl skating on a lake in Alaska worried that he would hate it because ice skating would be so hard.  He would have to stay upright!  And no one likes to fall!  And it would be cold, he always takes off his gloves!  He will need to wear a helmet, and what about knee and elbow pads!?


Boy, I shouldn’t have worried.  I should have remembered how much I loved ice skating when I was young and how my brother, who was only four years old that last winter in Alaska, could skate like a champ.  Charles took to skating like a fish to water.


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The plastic pusher thing helped a ton – I think Charles only fell twice, and by having ME push the pusher, he was able to go super fast.




The best part, and also the most heart-rending part, was when it became clear that Charles needed me not a bit.  I only managed to get him off the ice to go inside and have cake.  I took my skates off, he kept his on, as well as his helmet, and then I left him with a PBJ and a cup of juice and went to the bathroom.  When I came back to the party room, he was gone!  He had told the other adults that he was going back out on the ice and that he didn’t need any help.  When I finally got my skates back on, I found him tooling around the rink like he hadn’t a care in the world.  I wasn’t allowed to touch him after that unless he wanted to go fast.  My bay-bee doesn’t need meeee!  Sniff, sniff.  Then again, I got to skate a bit on my own, so that was nice.  Two sides to the same coin, you know?


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Charles skated for two solid hours and only agreed to get off of the rink and out of his skates when the zamboni came out.  I guess everyone loves a zamboni.

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