Having learned at the Rennie rink I could make it round the ice without gripping Gentleman Caller’s hand for dear life, I boldly proposed a skate date for the following day with an old acquaintance. Maria and I went to high school together and had a few mutual friends, but were never close ourselves. Nevertheless, we kept up on each other’s lives through Facebook stalking (at least on my part) and chatting at said mutual friends’ holiday parties. And at this past year’s Christmas shindig, after a few glasses of punch, we declared we thought we should Be Friends, and exchanged phone numbers.
And then… nothing happened. We each got on with our own holidays and lives until the Rennie excursion, during which we traded gossip on old classmates and reiterated our intent to befriend each other. So, the next day, a quiet Wednesday in the lull between Christmas and New Year’s, I texted Maria and proposed an afternoon trip to the rink at Colonel Sam Smith Park, which she’d visited last winter.
Like a proper adult, Maria replied quickly and offered to drive us over (and here I am, quaking at the thought of my G2 exit test). Half an hour later, we were there.
It’s pretty, isn’t it? (Don’t worry; the photo comes from the City of Toronto’s Flickr page, licensed under Creative Commons.) Like Rennie, the pleasure skating area is a trail rather than a run-of-the-mill rectangle, but it’s a figure-eight and significantly larger. There’s no rink with boards, so any shinny players may be disappointed, but the irregular trail means there’s no dodging flying pucks.
Two disadvantages to skaters of all stripes, however, are that parking isn’t free, and that there are currently no changing areas, heated or otherwise. The handful of benches got crowded quickly, and while it wasn’t particularly cold, it wouldn’t have been fun to lace up if the wind had picked up at all.
Our skate started smoothly — thankfully, there are rails to clutch as you totter from mat to ice — and it was fun to spot bird feeders nestled in the conifers, as well as skaters dressed as reindeer and snowmen.
But then — woe! Halfway through a loop, hubris got the better of us. We were in the middle of conversation and not focused on our feet when a small child skated by. She was one of those spry, speedy things who don’t care if they tumble, so confident are they in their ability to leap up in a moment. One of her blades knocked against one of ours, and down we dropped while she swerved aside and swooped by, an apology hollered in her wake.
I had to crawl to the side of the trail before rising unsteadily, and it was alarming to totter back into the throng of skaters. But at least, we joked, the first fall of the season was behind us.
Rating: 4/5 skates
Pros: Big beautiful trail, nearby wildlife, rails to help getting on and off the ice
Cons: No free parking, no change rooms, lots of unwieldy children (at least in the middle of the afternoon during the winter break)