Sunday, January 19, 2003


As a teenage I loved iceskating. We lived in Concord, Mass., and played hockey informally on various ponds and the flooded meadows around the river. Once the Concord River froze so completely that we skated miles down the river and back. Most exciting was skating on Walden Pond. I remember black (transparent rather than white) ice on Walden pond, six or eight inches thick. Near the shore you could see right through the ice and the water to the bottom of the pond. When the sun is low the black ice takes on a dusty look and it booms like a low drum as it expands and contracts (try this pdf file from Sweden for some of the phenomena involved or this story from Minnesota for a discussion of the formation of black ice). I loved the feeling of gliding almost effortlessly and the speed.

Yesterday I took my kids skating, to the only rink in this part of South Carolina. And I couldn't skate. My feet and lower legs hurt as soon as I got on the ice and I couldn't pick up my feet. I could skate backwards, though it still hurt, so I pulled my kids each part way around the rink so they could get the feel of gliding. But then I had to give up because it hurt so much. I had had some problems the last time I skated 2 years ago and I hoped that renting skates big enough for my custom orthotics would solve the problem. But apparently my arch problems, which don't bother me as long as I wear the orthotics, make skating impossible now.

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