Was there ever a more magical activity than skating? Ottawa is home to the longest outdoor skating rink the world, the Rideau Canal Skateway, boasting some 7.8 kilometers of uninterrupted ice. And this has been a banner year for the canal. The weather has been nearly perfect and much of the canal seems as smooth as an indoor rink. There’s just something about bright sunshine, blue skies, refreshing cold air in your lungs, and the look of happiness on everyone you skate by. The BeaverTails don’t hurt either. So far this year I’ve been good and refrained from indulging, but that might not last. In fact, it almost certainly won’t.  Few things are better for the soul than to skate a few kilometers, then stop for a steaming BeaverTail and cup of hot chocolate.

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Skating is a very welcoming sport. On the same ice surface you’ll see everyone from beginners, lacing up for the first time, to seasoned pros blasting down the ice on speed skates. On that spectrum, I tend to fall closer to the beginner, but just

advanced enough that I don’t often fall. Woo hoo! I learned to skate on the canal which was both good and bad. The fact that it’s so long forces you to practice, that’s the good. The challenge is right in front of you. You just have to skate the whole thing. Or as much of it as you can manage. The bad part is that since it’s so long and straight, you never learn to turn and seldom need to stop. In the beginning, my stopping strategy was to spot a snow bank and plow into it. My turning strategy was to first stop then aim myself in the desired direction. Simple, but effective.

Our Winterlude festival is in full force and my favourite event has always been the ice sculptures. I’ll post a photo of one them. How anyone can get so much detail carved into ablock of ice is a deep mystery. Hmmm. That sounds like a story waiting to be written, how an ancient enclave of magicians uses deep magic to carve runes and symbols into ice. The hero wields a sword of ice, hard as diamond, that never melts. Right. That’s my queue to put down the pen and think some more about winter wizards and swords of ice.

Whatever form winter takes where you are, I hope you’re able to make the most of it. ‘till next time…

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