Episode 9: In which Mim finds her skating legs
The first time I went ice-skating I vomited on the rink. The second time, I got my finger trodden on by an ice skate. These somewhat comical occurrences were then complemented by my multiple slips and falls: the classic banana-peel kind. That was ten years ago.
A couple of days before starting the winter semester, my native Montrealer friend took me ice-skating. My fond memories of this winter activity fostered high expectations. Put Mim on an ice rink and it’s like watching a slapstick comedy. How could I possibly top my pre-existing ice-skating faux pas with sufficient comic relief?
Luckily, the closest naturally occurring body of frozen water happened to be across the road from our apartment. It was colder than -20 celsius that day; I could not have fathomed walking further. The lake at Parc Lafontaine had frozen over two weeks prior. On New Years Eve my friends and I had strolled across it with regular shoes, but traversing it with skates was a whole other experience…
The moment I stepped onto the ice I gripped my friend’s arm like a koala clinging to a tree in a hurricane. Picture a grandma hunched over a walking aid. I was so scared to move that my friend had to pull the human statue that was me along the ice for the first half of the lesson. Eventually, once she had enlightened me with several useful techniques (like, “line up your nose with the foot that is in front”), I quickly got the hang of it.
Despite being 100 per cent Québecoise, out of nowhere my friend adopted an Italian accent as she cheered me on. Perhaps she did it to embody the optimism of a proud Italian mama: “she’s so fast, she’s a pro!”
I regret to inform you that I am no longer an ice-skating clown. I can proudly say that I only fell once, and I didn’t get up for a while. I lay there on the ice, limbs outstretched in a star-shape, and stared into the snowing sky as classical music played from the speakers that were dotted around the park. Dozens of people skated across the lake effortlessly. A group of boys played a game of hockey. Couples skated hand-in-hand whilst chatting. Four giggling girls formed a chain and glided across the ice.
When I arrived in August the park was covered in picnic rugs, bicycles, skateboards and people tanning in the sun. Ducks drifted across one side of the lake while water erupted from the fountain on the other. It is five months later: the season has changed but the morale has not. That’s something I love about Montreal. Its people maintain high spirits in even the most tedious of weather. I’ve discovered that one way to escape the dreariness of winter is to seize every opportunity to make an event of it. Solution number one: ice-skating.