Grace on Ice
It was one of those fall days where every golden leaf that
drifted from the sycamore trees held a memory: mom and dad
ordering my sisters and me to rake up mounds of crimson and
pomegranate orange Modesto ash leaves splattered on our lawn;
sisters and me diving into the mounds as soon as we raked them
up; the cobalt sky accented by a few stratus clouds and golden
light gleaming from the slides and swings in the park across the
street, beckoning us to play and dream. In those days bonfires
were all the rage and the smell was intoxicating.
Anyway, snapping back to the present, I am biking along the
recreation trail, starting at Portola Plaza in Monterey: a huge
circular plaza centered with a gaily splashing Spanish fountain.
Of all the events I’ve seen staged here, from car shows to First
Night New Year’s festivities, the one I behold takes the cake:
an outdoor ice skating rink.
Talk about nostalgia: when I was six we lived briefly in
Minnesota where my older sister and I took ice skating lessons.
Sis broke her leg doing a shoot the duck and I just remember
standing on wobbly ankles, freezing to the bone, crying,
“Mo-o-o-mmy, when can we go home?”
Mom told me I actually led the Ice Capades as a little penguin
but I think she made that up.
Today, in the rather smallish rink, some adults are gliding
easily across the sparkling ice and kids are slip sliding on
their tusches or grinning as they grip the surrounding wooden
fence while their unstable little ankles quiver.
And there, in the center of the rink, I spy a woman who must
have been born on ice. Like a ballerina atop a music box, she
lazily spins herself into a blur and comes out of it extending
her graceful arms. She then slices around the rink backwards,
easily avoiding everyone else around her.
She owns the rink and knows it. Her sleek skating is more like a
prayer or meditation - her spirit unbound. This art form always
humbles me, whether I am watching it live or on TV. It’s one of
the most difficult sports and looks the easiest. In my next
incarnation I want to be a professional skater.
After awhile, I pedal out to Seaside, along the ocean dunes,
beside the foaming sea and ask myself, “I wonder where I’ll go
when I die, since I’ve already lived in Paradise?”