It’s time for some frozen Canadian fun

Skating outdoors on a frozen lake takes Michele Blais back to her Ontario childhood

Skating on a frozen lake is a Canadian tradition and a great way to enjoy the outdoors on a cool, crisp winter day.

Skating on a frozen lake is a Canadian tradition and a great way to enjoy the outdoors on a cool, crisp winter day.

Kalamalka Lake freezing is very unusual and has been offered to the community as a giant skating rink. This is a wonderful reminder of what is great in our Canadian world. We ventured out last Sunday, just with boots to be able to experience the joy of walking on a lake that in the summer we enjoy swimming in.

On Monday my darling went back and skated for an hour with hockey stick and ball, and he glided for ages enjoying the freedom of skating on an open surface that a lake or a river can provide. He loved it. He shot a puck back and forth with a friend’s son and also just enjoyed the opportunity to skate 500 yards or so on the lake. There were many folks out enjoying the lake as it was a Pro-D day. I can imagine the great conversations that could be had over the dinner table that evening of explaining the depth of ice needed; why this year did it freeze; and how magical it is to be on top of the water that we swim in and enjoy paddle boarding, kayaking, canoeing and general frolicking in.

Being on the lake brought me back a flood of memories as I learned to skate on a frozen pond at our neighbour’s place when we lived on the farm. Brock, our neighbour, was an “old bachelor,” although he was probably only 40. Brock had been born with severe hearing problems, not quite deaf, and someone got a great hearing aid whenhe was in his 40s and it opened up his world and for us improved his coaching! The farm he lived on was in his family for a couple of generations. Many great afternoons were spent outside at his place with children and their parents enjoying the activity and camaraderie.

He taught me to skate with a wooden chair as my support. Once I was confident I loved to go over to the pond and pretend I was a figure skater; I was not a good one, but I had a vivid imagination. One year we were able to skate on a river near our farm that in my childhood memory allowed us to skate for miles. On that ice surface I was living in Holland, and as I skated the trees I passed were windmills. My hands folded behind my back, with exaggerated strides left and right, it was wonderful, such a sense of freedom.

Many of our locals enjoy skating on Swan Lake, Otter Lake or Okanagan Lake each year.

These opportunities for enjoying our beautiful natural gifts are memory-making, healthy and simple. A pair of skates, or good boots, bundled up warm, perhaps you need a shovel to clear the snow, maybe a hockey stick, ball or puck and let the fun begin. Time together with family and friends enjoying a simple pleasure, coming home with your cheeks red and cold to enjoy a warm drink and share the magic with each other.

Being able to be out in nature has a calming, centering benefit for us, and this is important year-round. Whatever your choice of activity, get out and enjoy the feeling of the sun on your face and cold cheeks!!

There are of course important safety considerations for skating on a lake, or any winter activity, and pay attention to these. Wear helmets as well for many activities and protect that head of yours and your family’s. A helmet for skiing and snowboarding solves the hat problem as it protects.

I saw recently a post about how all Canadians can walk on water. Increasingly as I watch the uncertainty of the U.S. and activities around the world, I am ever so grateful that a few hundred years ago both of my parents’ ancestors chose Canada to make their home and put down roots.

O Canada!

Michele Blais has worked with children and families in the North Okanagan for the past 30 years. She is a longtime columnist with The Morning Star, appearing every other Sunday.



Vernon Morning Star