Sunday, January 08, 2006

skating pond

I took this photo from what would be our swimming beach in the summer. Now, on the other side of the year, I spent the morning trying to get the ice in suitable condition for ice skating. In an ideal year, there would be a week or more of below freezing temperatures, without precipitation, to build up some good clear ice, then after a snowfall it would stay cold enough that the snow would not turn to slush on the pond before it could be shoveled off.

This year we had the cold weather, we had the snow, but then the day before I was going to shovel the pond, Christmas eve, the temperature went above freezing and we had over a week of unseasonably warm weather. Our driveway turned into an ice slick, but the several inches of snow on the pond turned slushy. The best thing to do in that case is to wait until it is cold enough to let the snow crust over, then try to shovel it. It helps if, once shoveled, there is a sunny day to melt the surface a little, and then refreeze it nice and smooth.

This morning I decided the conditions might be right to shovel. I certainly got my exercise, as pushing the steel shovel through crusty snow takes a lot of energy. I got the ice cleared in about an hour. It's not perfectly smooth, but if there is good weather and not much snow in the next day or two it will work. Although note the snowflakes in the photo. As soon as I laid the shovel down, it started.

The kids came out to the newly shoveled pond and had fun playing "penguins", after seeing March Of The Penguins. I figured after enough video games, they would be ready to seek out some outdoor fun and fresh air on their own.


Floridacracker said...

I never knew you had to "prep" a pond before skating. It makes perfect sense now, but being a Floridiot, I had never considered that you'd have to remove the snow before you can skate. Keep writing, I'm learning.

Deb said...

Yes, snow removal is a big part of it, and I'm very particular about how it's done. Snow weighs down the ice so even if you have eight inches of solid ice to begin with, if you get eight inches of snow or more it can cause the entire ice mass to push down and water to seep up at the edges. I found a couple of spots today where we must have springs, it looked like water had flowed up beneath the snow cover. But in a good year, like I mentioned, you would not have to do much more than shovel the pond after it snowed.

Why am I so particular about how it's shoveled? Because I know that if you leave chunks of snow on top of the ice, it will thaw and freeze and make a lump that will catch you off guard and make you land on your face while skating. Not good, especially for the beginners I'm dealing with. Or myself, for that matter.