Saturday, December 17, 2016

Building an Ice Rink in the Yard

Every October, my husband starts to get antsy about an annual household project that needs to be completed before the first freeze. It's not winterizing our home for optimal heating indoors. It's not preparing our cars for the snow and ice we can expect in Chicagoland, equipping them with snow tires or checking the anti-freeze. It's not hauling winter boots, coats, hats and mittens out of their summertime attic storage. Nope, it's none of those only slightly necessary preparations that he begins to focus on when the leaves begin to turn and fall.

It's something much more vital to the wintertime existence of this homeschooling family. To meet the needs of winter survival and sanity of physically active children and stir crazy adults, my husband begins to turn his attention to the building of an ice rink in our suburban yard. It is not a difficult process but it is a labor of love.

Usually a chilly half day project, every year they hope to begin the process before the ground freezes. My husband and the boys haul the systematically stored boards and stakes out of the garage.

The boards are laid out in the yard in their eventual order of placement, set up with stakes and held in place with brackets and screws.

The boards are draped with a very large piece of plastic (construction grade), obtained from our local Home Depot. One hundred feet long, the cost of the plastic is $80.00. It is cut in half for use over two years, one half per year. Attached with a staple gun to the boards the plastic covers the ground and the inside of the boards.

Once the task of adding the plastic cover is complete, the weather watching begins. They begin looking for the inevitable report of the first freeze. The rink is filled with water (minimum 3" deep at the shallowest point) using the outdoor faucet and the garden hose. The frozen rink requires some maintenance. If it snows, the ice needs to be cleared. If the weather warms, melting can cause rough spots, adding water again before a refreeze can help smooth the surface. From my observations of the skaters in our family, watching the weather, the maintenance of the rink and skating day and night, is all a part of the joy of winter.

After the freeze the skating begins.
Late one night as I was saying goodnight to our youngest, I heard sounds outside...
Looking out the upstairs window, I was delighted to see the source; my husband enjoying the fruits of his labor, enjoying a late night skate on the ice in his own backyard! I captured it on the video below, perhaps not very exciting viewing for all, but the scene and the sound of my husband's skate blades on the ice warms my heart!

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