Skating on a pond with the sky all around you — the marsh in frozen suspension all dusty brown, the birds eyeing you skeptically — is one of the most exhilarating parts of winter in New England. Last year, it never got cold enough for the salty ponds to freeze, but this season we got a few wonderful days on the Mill Pond behind my house.
Neighbors gather for a pond party, very impromptu since we are never sure when the pond will freeze. One neighbor calls another, and the kids pass the news along the street — pond party tonight! It’s the winter equivalent of making hay when the sun shines — like, make hot cocoa when the ice freezes over.
Late afternoon in the gloaming we gather, boots stamping and breathes visible. The views back on our houses is so different from this new vantage point, and I think, this is what the ducks look at every day. Someone starts a small bonfire, and a tray of cheese and crackers gets nibbled at by kids whizzing gleefully across mushy, undulating ice. Parents gather around the fire, and someone brings a life ring — just in case. A few firecrackers are put off, sparklers shared. People talk about colder winters than this one, and their memories of even the Eel Pond freezing over years ago.
Finally it’s really dark and we head in for dinner, all rosy cheeks and good appetites. What a wonderful way to get out of the house in winter, and visit with friends. I live for pond skating on wintery Cape Cod. Just one of the many fun things to do in the off season.