I grew up near 7 acres of ice.

In the evenings the rural community came together outside, lit a large fire and sat on handmade benches lacing rows of ice skates in unison. Mine were baby blue with fur skirting the top. Very fashionable.

Each person grabbed a snow shovel and pushed on to the ice, clearing a path shoulder to shoulder with neighbors. We rarely cleared all 7 acres but always cleaned enough to skate with ease.

Snow shovels made trails and roads under moonlit nights and a few generator-fed spot lights. There were no closing or opening hours that I remember, just a kind of consensual, instinctive, community knowing that said it was time to clear the dinner dishes, pick up your ice skates, and head to 7 acres.

To warm ourselves we made hot chocolate, steaming cups of sweet brown liquid topped with little square marshmallows. That was my childhood delight.

Hot chocolate today leaves indigestion and an Oh, what did I do that for conversation. But not then, not in the time and place of my childhood. At that time, the warm comfort moving through my chest and into my belly was associated with exercise, laughter, rosy cheeks, races and not wanting to surrender my outside pleasures for a too warm house and bed.

written 2-27-08