Those who make rinks

Getting involved in your community is a great way to make friends.  There are so many things we use weekly, even daily, which are volunteer run.  One (or two in this case) of those such things are the ice rinks which occupy the tennis court and basketball courts across the street from my house during the winter.  Most people assume that because it sits on city property, they are city maintained.  I recently discovered the rinks were actually maintained and built by a small group of volunteers.  My neighbours.

Those of us who live in Suburbia often go to great lengths to avoid those who live next to us.  Strange really, as homes are packed closer together we’ve gone to great lengths to avoid those who we share the world with.  Getting involved in your local community isn’t just a great way to give back to the city and amenities you use, its a great way to meet people.  Upon discovering these rinks were volunteer run I, after my wife encouraged me to do so, signed up.  I’ve always wanted to build a backyard rink but never knew how to do it.  When I joined I was excited to learn the new skill in hopes to be able to do so in my own yard sometime.  Unbeknownst to me, however, I was joining a strange “brotherhood” as it were – though both genders are considered members.

They call themselves “Rinkers”.

Rinkers are simply folks who make rinks.  Backyard rinks, public rinks, pond rinks.  The two gentlemen I’ve joined have been building rinks for 15 and 35 years respectively.  There are, naturally, whole communities of people online who tell tales and trade tips online.  Websites you can actually track local area rinks that you can skate on.  People post images of the rinks, updates on their condition and use schedules as required.  These are a tight knit group of people as well.  Rinking is an art form and each has his/her own methods and preferences.  They speak of ice in a scientific fashion that makes me feel like there is much to learn.  Terms like “sheet ice” and “stippling” are new to me.  Did you know there is too cold a time to make ice?  I didn’t.  You can also put too much water on, or be too fast.  Also new things for me.

These are folks who go out when most people don’t even dare consider it.  Minus 30 windchills or driving snow they are out there, shoveling and flooding.  Snow is the enemy when it comes to rinks.  Rink surface condition is a huge area of pride for Rinkers, something even I myself am beginning to obsess over.  Who knew creating a solid would be so very consuming.  Making outdoor rinks seems like such a quintessentially Canadian thing to do, though I know many other nations do it as well.  It’s a shame we don’t have more people doing it, Rinkers are a kind bunch.  Standing over the hose while you flood sets a perfect mood to exchange stories.  A great way for a young 30 something like me to get life wisdom from two men who have been doing things way longer than I have.

So, I raise a double gloved half frozen hand to the Rinkers out there.  Happy flooding and watch out for sheet ice.

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