Skating in Peace

Accompanying the arrival of autumn are many of my favorite things: pumpkin pie, warm apple cider, hot teas, homemade cookies, multi-colored leaves, 60-degree days, and ice skating. That's only a partial list, because I love fall. I dislike summer, would rather skip the snows of winter, but fall and spring are glorious. And locally, the ice skating rink is open from Labor Day through Memorial Day.

During the week, the public sessions are from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., with evening public sessions on Friday and Saturday nights. My wife and I have been skating during the evening sessions, but those are crowded and noisy. It is much nicer to go skating during the day, when only a few people use the rink.

Last year, I found myself sharing the rink with three to five people most days. Sometimes, I was the only person skating, while the figure skaters were stretching or dealing with equipment issues. Around and around, smoothly on the cool ice. While they play music during the evening sessions, the afternoons are quiet. The practicing figure skaters and their coaches will start and stop and restart bits of classical music.

I enjoyed cycling around the foothills of Central California on weekdays because there were few (if any) cars along the route. Rarely did I see another cyclist, either, though the route was popular among riders on weekends.

Cycling or skating, there is a rhythm — you pedal or skate to a beat. It provides a sense of order and structure. The smooth ice and the relatively smooth roads are important, too. Yes, the roads vibrate, but they are not jarring like mountain biking. While riding, I get used to the vibration of the narrow tires on asphalt. Ice is also irregular — it's not as perfect as people imagine. (The natural ice of outdoor rinks is too rough for me.)

Autumn is quieter than summer. It is calm and relaxing. Skating is relaxing, too.


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