After talking about it all winter, today we made use of our flexible weekday schedules and headed down to the Boston Common for a chilly afternoon of skating on Frog Pond, an area of the park that I believe in the summertime is a sort of wading pool with sprinklers where little children can play.
The rink is artificial, and we were a little disappointed when we saw it in person, as we had the romantic notion that we would be skating on a natural frozen pond. This idea was bolstered for me by an article by Roger Angell several years back in which he recalled skating with his stepfather, E.B. White, on the pond in the Public Garden (the name of the other half of the park) where you can ride the Swan Boats in the summer, and White's shoes being stolen from where he'd hidden them under a bush, thus causing him to walk back up Beacon Hill first in his hockey skates, then in stockinged feet, in the snow.
This was not a risk for us, as there are storage lockers at the Frog Pond skating facility. On our way downtown, my companion, who seemed inordinately nervous about our impending activity, revealed that he had only ever been skating once before in his life, so I worried that the falling and bruising of bottoms might be our risk instead, but both of us managed to stay upright, only clinging to the railing every now and then. We weren't alone in that.
When we first got on the ice, a waifish preteen boy commented to us, "I'm glad I'm not the only beginner here!" as he skidded by in a knock-kneed pose. Meanwhile, the rink was filling up with older kids, mostly Asian, who expertly bombarded each other on lightning blades, crashing into the walls of the rink like bumper cars. A petite young man with a bleached-out Howard Jones hairdo and acid-washed jeans spun and danced on the middle of the ice to the song "I Need a Hero." The music had clearly been chosen with great care: "Word Up," "Glamorous Life," Prince's "Kiss." It was Friday Night Videos on Ice.
Our path home led past the Swan Boat pond, where it turned out there was skating after all, but only for those with their own skates and the courage to test the strength of nature's own ice.
These hardy folk were all playing hockey; we might want to practice a few more times on the "baby" rink before venturing over here with the big boys, where we'd have to dodge skittering pucks, along with the peril of rough, un-Zambonied ice, with, as Angell says, "frozen ripples here and there to trip you up."
But we have one advantage the hockey players don't - we know not to leave our shoes unattended. Not unless we want a long, chilly walk back to the T station.