Saturday, December 26, 2009

02009 New Year's Resolution #39: Backwards Progress is Progress

Our lovely town (Newport, NH) has one of the largest town commons in the state. So the promotional material says. It does not specify whether that's one of the five largest, one of the ten largest, or one of the fifty largest. Anyway, I guess the implication is that it's pretty big and that should be a point of civic pride.

What's more interesting to me is what the town does with this asset. Specifically, the northern end, and specifically during winter: Every year, after some snow has fallen, they bring in a plow and push back the snow so that there is a cleared area surrounded by a low containing wall of snow. Then they turn a hose on and flood the cleared area with water. The water then freezes to become a public outdoor ice skating rink. At the northwestern corner of the rink, they bring in a wooden shed with lots of ice skates. These skates are available for the public to "rent", free of charge.

This is our fifth winter living in Newport. While I had always intended to take advantage of this wonderful amenity, I hadn't ever gotten around to doing so until today.

This afternoon, I finally went skating on the town common. I spent well over an hour out on the ice and it wasn't until I had passed the hour mark that I finally made my only fall of the day. Quite a surprising accomplishment, considering that a) I hadn't been ice skating in a few years, b) I never was very good at it, and c) the condition of the ice in this rink really leaves quite a lot to be desired. There is, of course, no Zamboni out there, so the ice is uneven and scarred.

Anyway, when I got out there, I made a spur of the moment New Year's Resolution:

I resolved to finally learn how to skate backwards.

Until today, I had never managed to do this. Why? It always seemed quite enough of a challenge to stay upright while going forwards. I didn't feel as if I had sufficiently mastered that part of the operation to warrant taking on anything any more difficult. But today was different, and today I taught myself to skate backwards. I am slow and shaky. I am not at all skilled and there is no elegance or nuance to my technique. But I now know that I can skate backwards, however amateurishly. Progress!

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