(Host) Commentator Henry Homeyer is a garden writer and educator, who
likes to be outside year round. This winter, Nordic skating on smooth
lakes and ponds has been his salvation.
(Homeyer) For those of
us who enjoy snow, this has been a miserable winter. Until recently
there’s been very little of the white stuff for skiing or snowshoeing on
back-country trails. Even the resorts that make snow have had less than
perfect conditions due to rain and warm temperatures. But it’s inspired
me to re-discover a sport I used to enjoy as a kid, because the lack of
snow means the ponds and lakes in the area have been good for skating.
up in the fifties and sixties in rural Connecticut, I was a skater. We
didn’t have much snow then either, so we skated and played hockey on a
farm pond. We wore lace-up leather hockey skates that were uncomfortable
and cold, but there were few alternatives, and with little else to do
after school, I skated.
Now, 50 years later, I‘ve discovered the
joys of Nordic skating which is even better than the skating I did as a
kid. For starters, Nordic skates have comfortable boots that I can put
on in just a few seconds, and they’re warm, even on cold days. The inner
boot has laces that tighten just by pulling at the top. There’s a
zipper to close up the outer boot, and Velcro for added ankle support.
skates have aluminum blades that are thicker and longer than the blades
of hockey or figure skates. They glide over the bumps and cracks in the
ice and support my ankles so nicely that I find it easy to stand still
without having my ankles turn.
Of course, one has to be careful
when skating on ponds and lakes. Inlets and springs can create thin ice
or open water, so I depend on the ice fishermen to guide me. They know
where it’s safe to be. I also wear special "claws" around my neck – mini
ice picks that would allow me to pull myself out if the ice broke.
several years the Lake Morey Inn has maintained a 4-mile loop around
Lake Morey in Fairlee. It’s said to be the longest groomed skating trail
in the United States. When there is snow, they plow. That’s important
after the recent snow fall, as other lakes won’t be skateable for
Skating on Lake Morey is like being transported in time
and space – to Norway, perhaps, in the 1950’s. On sunny weekend
afternoons people of all ages skate this long loop, with snow-covered
Mt. Moosilauke in the distance, presiding over it all. Spruce and
hemlock grace the hills that rise up on the shoreline, and camps and
lodges perch quietly near the ice, waiting for summer.
Nordic skating feels like flying. When the ice is smooth it only takes a
few kicks and I’m gliding across the ice. On a blue-sky day (or a
full-moon night) skating on a pond or lake is as about as close to
heaven as I may come while here on earth, so I play hooky every chance I
get. I recommend it.