Coming back from Arctic conditions in Norway I was hoping for milder weather at home. I had become slightly fed up with having to wear several layers of clothing just to go outside, not to mention waxing ski’s and fiddeling with gators. (They go around your legs to stop snow from getting in your socks and boots)
But! on return and rehabilitation into civilization, what I got was more freezing temperatures and the giddy excitement and feeling of expectation that go with sub zero thermometer readings. Would I need to put snow chains on my bicycle?? I wish I owned a pair of skates, I would go into the flat countryside find a nice bit of 12 cm. thick ice and be off. Wait, What I really wish is not to own skates but to own a shop that sells skates. Yes, I would be better off. I figure that many people don’t have skates any more and will be queueing up to get some. The main reason for this wish though is to experience the interaction between someone selling skates and the people buying them:
“We would like to buy some skates sir.” My first customer is a fourty year old man who can remember the last two ‘Elfstedentochten’ and the winters of the ’80s and ’90s he spent on frozen lakes and ponds with his friends from school. He also has his two children with him. The children are a seven year old girl and a twelve year old boy, both of which have never skated on real ice before. They take off thier woolly hats and squeeze their hands.
“What kind of skates?” I would reply. “ice hockey-, figure- or speed skates…?” In naming the last kind I lower my voice into hushes impying that I would go for those. Real leather Noren on which even the youngest novice feels like Sven Kramer the reigning champion or Reinier Paping, legendary winner of the 1963 ‘Elfstedentocht’. I give the father a soft smile and a nod. He beams back at me a smile of understanding. The ice had never been more apropriately broken.
“I think my son wants ice hockey skates. Don’t you? And my daughter was thinking of figure skates, right dear? She isn’t sure though because she also likes the speed skates and even then she thinks she won’t be able to do it properly, skate I mean”
They really shouldn’t need my help in deciding, because the dad and I have already made up our minds. I go into service mode. “Of course sir. Ice hockey- and figure skates are easier to learn on because of the turning, but if you are planning on really learning to skate there is only one option.” The children look up at their father unknowingly…
Minutes later they leave, with speed skates for the lot of them.