“Describe a place you remember from your childhood” is the prompt from Imagination prompt.
A friend once asked me if I had ever ice skated, a question that brought back one of my fondest childhood activity – and memory.
When I was a kid, I lived in a rural area about 15 miles north of the city of Bergen. We would get a good, long freeze in January and if it stayed cold long enough, a small pond a couple of farms over from where I lived would freeze over. It wasn’t really a pond, but a marsh that had a small body of water. We’d walk down a trail, past what in the summer were cow pastures until we got to our pond, almost hidden from the trail.
A couple of yards out in the pond was a solitary rock. That was where whoever measured the thickness of the ice would punch a hole and measure, leaving a pole behind to mark the hole. To be safe, the ice had to be a minimum of 15 centimeters (6 inches) thick – and clear. Steel ice, the Norwegians call it. When we were on the ice, we’d sometimes hear it make cracking sounds. Freezing water expands, so what we were hearing was the ice rubbing against its borders. The only thing that would ruin the pond was if it snowed on it before the surface froze properly. Snow makes ice bumpy.
Our impromptu ice skating rink was about the size of an olympic swimming pool. Around the ragged edge were rocks perfect for sitting on to change to skates, so all along the perimeter were dozens of pairs of boots and bags and rucksucks on a good evening. All kids’ items. I rarely saw an adult, with the exception of the hole measuring guy. I think the eldest on the ice were in their mid-teens. The boys wore hockey skates, and we girls wore figure skates. I seem to remember the magical nights best: Skating under a starry sky, moonlight making the surrounding frost and snow glitter, the trees surrounding the pond adding to the feeling of being in our own world.
It was a friend who told me about the skating pond. My first skates had been her mother’s grandmother’s skates – old and black and rather pointy-toed. But I learned on those and then got my own pretty white ones. I loved ice skating! Much more than skiing. I never got daring on the ice but there was something about skating that felt so free. And the ice itself was pretty. It was so clear, I’d go off between the rocks and find a spot to just lie on my belly and look at the pond bottom through the ice. I also accidentally discovered that chipping the ice made it act like a prism, producing a rainbow effect. One shouldn’t chip the ice, so I’d find a spot where nobody skated, like where the grass was poking up through the ice, and chip a bit with my skate blade, and then lie on my stomach with my eyes right next to the colors.
I haven’t seen that pond since I moved away from that part of town in 1976. Out of curiosity, I did locate it on today’s modern online maps – a summertime aerial view, making it look like the ordinary, cloudy marsh pond that it is. I will not go back. My magic pond will stay where it is at its best: In my childhood memory.