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I’ve Got Skating and Holland On My Mind

February 21, 2012

The cold weather has me thinking more thoughts about Holland, not only it’s historical interiors but it’s frosty exteriors and picturesque winter pastime – ice skating the canals.  There is a whole network of them throughout the country!  A dream vacation for skaters –  only problem is, it doesn’t freeze every year and when it does, mostly for only short periods of time, you either need to be living in the country or an adjoining country like Germany or catch a plane within 24 hours if you live in the USA!  Still, it would be worth the effort to be able to skate endlessly!

When I was in grade school in the 1950’s and 60’s every winter my father would drive my sister and I from the suburbs of Virginia to Washington, D.C. to ice skate at the Marriott outdoor rink.  This was not the large Marriott in the downtown area but a smaller one closer to the Virginia side.  To my knowledge, it was the only skating rink in the entire Virginia metropolitan area!  Today there are a half-dozen rinks.  Those were the years before the “beltway” and the huge suburban population that now crowds the landscape along the ever-expanding super highway.

I remember my first visit to the rink, clinging to the rail the whole time and loving it!  It was always crowded and skaters would be whizzing by almost knocking me over as I wobbled along.  I remember the Christmas I got my own skates, they were light blue and I thought they were the most beautiful skates I ever saw!  As the years went by my family moved further out in the county, there were no ice rinks close-by then, a neighbor had a small pond in their front yard and there was also a new neighborhood up the road that boasted a small lake.  If it got cold enough I could skate.  There weren’t many winters when the ponds froze but when it did I would excitedly call my friend Carol, who lived in the neighborhood with the lake and go skating.  Not many people  in Virginia in those days knew how to skate – so it was  just me and Carol with the lake all to ourselves!

These days it is easy to go ice skating, every metropolitan area has multiple rinks to choose from.  My nephew came for Christmas and casually mentioned he had played a pick-up game of hockey that morning, checking the rink’s hockey schedule on the internet, skated while his girlfriend went to yoga classes.  Things certainly have changed!

I still like to skate and I’m pretty good.  I can now skate forwards and backwards and enjoy it more than ever.  Once you get beyond the beginner stage and stop falling it becomes very relaxing.  I’m rather glad I’ve paid my dues and can skate fairly effortlessly, I’m not sure I would want to be a beginner at my age!  It’s the kind of sport you don’t forget, like riding a bike, even if you haven’t done it for several years, it’s not long before you find your balance and if you spend an hour or so on the ice, your skill level actually improves!

I was looking up blogs on WordPress recently and came upon Journalist On The Run, Janet, a recent college graduate from Ireland, has traveled around the world and is currently in Holland, that’s her gorgeous photo at the beginning of the blog.   If you want to read about how people in Holland live, go to her blog!  She thought it was strange  people were skating on the canal by the docked boats, apparently they don’t pull them out of the water when it freezes.  They have probably been skating around those boats for  hundreds of years!

The the rest of the gorgeous photos were taken by Ian in Hamburg on a weekend Holland skating holiday.  He mentioned when there is ice in Holland on the canals, one would have to be either dead or flat on your back and comatose not to be out on the ice!  Businesses curb services because employees are out skating on the canal, apparently because it doesn’t last long!  Everyone doesn’t ice skate, but they are out there none-the-less, socializing, children playing, sitting in chairs, walking the dog, etc!  It seems  like good healthy advice for the rest of us to follow!

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