All winter I have been humbly bragging to my Saskatchewan friends about the weather on Liars Mountain, mostly about the lack of minus double-digit nights. This means it is difficult for a smart good-looking fella like me to build a skating rink in his back yard. I blame global warming for the lack of ice-producing nights and the surplus of ice-melting days which, to some folks, might say sounds like the perfect winter. In our case, it is except for the skating thing.Mild winters were one of the main reasons we chose Liarton as our retirement locality because we wanted four distinct seasons. We are as active in the winter as we are in summer and strangely, we would miss the snow and ice had we moved farther west to the coast or the island. However, those sissies on the coast do enjoy a three-season year, Spring-ish (three months), Summer (six months) and Fall-ish (three months). There are folks who would argue that folks on the prairies enjoy three seasons as well, Spring-ish (three months), Fall-ish (three months) and Winter (six months).
This warm year is unusual. As a result, there are fewer outdoor skating rinks in the vicinity. Last year we had our choice of five rinks within our area and any thought of the lake freezing over just hasn’t seemed plausible for years. Of course, this was the year I had levelled a 25 foot by 40-foot space, preparing for our back yard skating experience. It is sad to see my “rink” out in the yard, snow-covered but unhappy and possibly forlorn. Our favourite rink down at the Community Hall is a slushy mess but kudos to the crew for attempting the impossible.
Our best bet for an afternoon of skating this year seemed to be across the lake and up in elevation on Sebastion Mountain near the village of Arista. We had never skated there before, but have heard about it for years. To say we were pleasantly surprised is an understatement. We were totally amazed!
Twice the size of Liarton’s rink, this huge ice surface was easily the size of two Olympic-sized hockey rinks, but without the boards. To be honest, the boards are not a needed requirement for skating. There were two hockey nets at each end of the rink with plywood backstops donated by the local hardware store. When we arrived at 1 p.m., the rink had been flooded earlier that morning and was nearly perfect.
There was a small heated shack to de-boot and skate-up, which is always nice, and in the shack, there were 40-50 pairs of skates for exchange or loan, a dozen or so helmets of different sizes. And just outside the door was an assortment of all sizes of hockey sticks for loan. How cool is that? Inside the shack was a landline telephone, for emergencies and ordering pizza (?) and a connection for the stereo PA system that will play music from an I-phone thingy. Outdoors there was a beautiful fire pit with split firewood and picnic tables made of logs, along with an impressive array of floodlights for night skating (just turn the lights off when you leave). Wow!
That level of organization is impressive. Photos on one wall of the shack showed who was responsible for this great community effort: The service club, the Volunteer Fire Department, the hardware store. The many volunteers who help in so many ways are all a part of this success. I did not recognize any of the people in those pictures but I am sure hundreds of skating shacks across Canada have similar photos.
Ain’t Canada great?
The views expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Moose Jaw Today, the Moose Jaw Express, its management, or its subsidiaries.