When I was a kid, we lived in the country and my father made a rink every year for about a dozen years. My brother and I spent the most time on it, but the only other neighbourhood kids our age - four boys - spent a good chunk of their winters on it too. It was a great rink, about twice the size of mine. Dad had a small fish pond nearby, and flooded the rink with a sump-pump and water from the pond. A few years ago he said to me, "you should build a rink." So I did.
The backyard rink is, to me, more special than a frozen pond, lake or river because of the preparation efforts. I always had a sense of the work involved - shoveling, scraping, flooding, plus the off-season work - but I didn't appreciate it as much until I started building my own. I'll chronicle these other aspects of my rink (and my Dad's) in future posts, but for now I'd like to talk about my 2009-2010 rink.
Christmas break is always a good time to start the rink...temperatures are low enough and there is usually enough snow to build a good base. So I got a pretty good start until January 2, when the temperature jumped up to plus 3 with rain and wind gusts up to at least 70 km/h. Since then, the temperature has stayed between 0 and +4, and we've had about 10 millimetres of rain. I was out a couple of times standing ankle deep in water, raking branches, cones, and all kinds of crap off the rink. So, no more snow, and no freezing temperatures. So, I consider myself lucky that my rink looks no worse than this:
The future doesn't look too bad, temperature-wise, but I need some more snow to re-build parts of the base...those wind gusts I mentioned earlier blew all the snow to the front yard. There isn't any appreciable snowfall in the forecast for maybe a week, so it looks like I'll be trucking the snow from the banks and drifts in front of the house to the backyard pretty soon.
It's lots of work, but it is all worth it when the kids (and, of course, I) get to lace 'em up and have a skate.