Skating on . . . second attempt


Today it was so nice that I went ice skating.  I bought new skates in December, but it has been too cold to give them a proper try.  I am learning that re-engaging ice skating is much scarier for a sixty year old woman than one in her teens or twenties.  Having said that—it was a sunny, gorgeous, fresh, cheek-pinking day.  As amazing as it sounds, I was doing better than the other few skaters that were there.  I tentatively skated for fifteen minutes or so finding my feet and legs and then my body seemed to remember how to make a few turns.  I only bruised my knee one time!

Skating for me was such a delight when I was a kid.  I can still remember my dad using two of his belts to hold up my younger brothers as he skated along.  The belts were tucked under their armpits—snowsuits and bundling scarves made them look like little bunnies.  We lived up in Babbitt when I was younger and we did not believe in giving up to the cold.  We wanted to skate, sled, make snow forts, have snowball fights—all the fun stuff of winter.  And up in Babbitt it was sometimes brutally cold.  (Actually not unlike what we have been having here this winter.)  When we came inside my mom would make us hot chocolate and mounds of buttered toast cut into little triangles.

I remember one time my dad decided to try to save a little money so he sharpened all of our skates with a grinder or something.  When we all hit the ice again it was like a vaudeville show—multiple snow bunnies slipping and falling and tumbling and tossing around on the ice with absolutely no control.  He had ground off the hollow ground of our figure skates and reduced the sharp tips to dull nubs.

My dad was a creator.  He loved to see if he could figure something out.  One time the track blew on our old yellow Skidoo and I remember him down on his knees with a hammer and chisel trying to cut a new track for the poor beast.  I don’t even remember if that attempt was successful.

When I was in junior high, he was very unhappy at Reserve Mining.  He had the chance to buy a lumber yard in Cass Lake and he took the chance.  I still marvel at his nerve—he picked up his family of eight children and moved away not really knowing how it would all turn out.  We moved into a tiny house in Cass Lake that had one bathroom and rooms as small as postage stamps.  All five boys were in a back room that had a frigid little sunroom attached.  I am not even sure what worries my parents had had, or what fears, or what kind of risk they actually took in moving us to a new town.  I knew that we were not wealthy, but I don’t honestly ever remember hearing them talk in front of us about money.  I think my Mom was happy to be back in Cass Lake close to her mom and sister, just like I am now happy to be back here with my sister and brothers.

After my dad died, Mom showed me a slip of paper that she said he had carried in his wallet his entire adult life.  It was thin and worn.  On the slip of paper were two quotes:

 Man is buffeted by circumstances so long as he believes himself to be the creature of outside conditions, but when he realizes that he is a creative power, and that he may command the hidden soil and seed of his being out of which circumstances grow, he then becomes the rightful master of himself.

 I cannot give you the formula for success, but I can give you the formula for failure which is: Try to Please Everybody.   –Herbert B. Swope

 This explains a lot to me both about his willingness to risk and about the attitudes and grit he gave to his children.  It is quite a shadow to stand in.

I’ve been writing this month about how to create a future that is zestful and rich.  I learned a long time ago that I often teach what I most need to learn.  This continues to be true and probably always will.  Sometimes I just need to stop everything that I’m doing and ask body and soul—What do I want?  What would that future look like, feel like, taste like . . .  . If we have to go back to the drawing board again and again in our lives, so what!  That is what makes it all so very interesting.

As much as I love working with students again, I want to find a way to teach without a restrictive schedule that cuts into travel and creative time.   I’ll have to put that one on the drawing board . . . .


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Skating on . . . second attempt — 14 Comments

  1. It’s working this time, Jamie. Thanks.

    Get that last paragraph on the drawing board and let me know if you figure it out. I haven’t.

    • Hi Dana,

      Yes, I just had to dump the post and start over. Not sure what happened there. Thanks for keeping in touch. I always love your take on the world–dark as it may be. Wish we could travel your way!!!

  2. Great story. I am so glad you were able to persevere and get this posted. An alternate title could be, “What’s in your wallet?”

    • Ha,

      That is a good one. Thanks for touching in. I haven’t heard from you for awhile. Hope your live is unfolding in a fabulous way. We are stuck up in endless winter in northern MN.

  3. Thanks, Jamie. It was well worth the wait. Lots of food for thought.

    The subject got my attention because I got back on my skates this month for the first time in over 30 years. The skates still worked & after some wobbling, I got the hang of it. I only fell once when trying to go around the rink in reverse of my natural direction. That shook our daughter because of a more serious fall she saw a year ago. It gave her a chance to remind me it was a good idea to put on a helmet, which I did. (I hadn’t gotten the hint when we were putting on the skates and even though she was setting the example.) I encourage you to find a helmet because of the risk of a concussion from a fall.

    • Hi Bill,

      I’m so glad to hear from you again. You sort of disappeared off my radar for awhile. I had an email from Karla B. in Stillwater. She wants us to come and do an inter=generational Bead People project again this spring. This will be the fourth year we do this I think. It would be great to see you when we come down. Let’s keep in touch about that.

  4. I love the recollections and passing forward the stories Jamie….thank you! We town folks have been doing our fair share of skating on sidewalks and streets, even on piles of melt/freeze/melt/freeze,etc at the park. Beautiful winter!

    • Hi Phyllis,

      Milt is in Rapid City right now, but we will be coming again over the weekend of March 7-8 for constellation workshop. It would be great to find time for a cup of coffee. Let’s plan it right now. Or accept my invitation to attend the workshop. Let’s talk.

  5. Dear Jamie,
    Thank you so much for persevering and getting this entry posted. Your reflections touched me deeply. For some reason that’s hard for me to put into words—I think it maybe because it touches such a tender and pure spot—this particular entry feels like a “magical gift”. First off, the accompanying picture is so magically beautiful. Thank you for choosing to be at this particular location at the time when the sunlight blessed everything with such a “sparkling and mysterious” beauty. In my life, I have sometimes experienced certain locations at certain times of day which seemed to me to be very “thin places” between this and the next world. Do you kind of know what I’m trying to say? Anyway, your picture gives me that sense when I look at it.

    And then your accompanying story was so beautiful and rich. What a good father you had (have) and how blessed and rich you are to have grown up in the family you did.

    Anyway, sorry for going on and on. What you shared here touched my heart deeply. Thank you for taking time to go ice-skating and for writing about your experience.

    On another subject, I’m happy to report that Brigette Sztab is coming to Utah in April to do a family constellation workshop. This is something I’ve been wanting to experience, but I couldn’t afford to travel out of state to attend. This world is an interesting place that seems to gift us with just what we need it when we need it.

    Best wishes to you and your family. –Keith

    P.S. Your story here reminded me of one my younger brother wrote for my parents 50th wedding anniversary back in 1997. It’s strange but we are currently estranged from one another. It saddens me. Here’s the story:

    “I Would Rather Be Rich”
    Larry D. Jensen (written in the late winter or early spring of 1997)

    Having only been rich, I have no direct understanding of the word poor. Oh, I have read about poor people; I have even seen them; I feel deep sympathy for these people. However, I have never actually been poor myself; neither do I have any desire to become poor.

    You see, I was born to a very rich family. Trips were commonplace, especially great fishing expeditions. We were fortunate to have our own expert guide. He did everything for us from supplying live bait, retrieving the fish, cleaning the fish, and even packing restroom facilities into the wilderness. Our guide made sure we had a new fishing pole for each fishing trip, and we also had our own private cook. Our meals consisted of only the finest food, with one favorite dish being a gourmet salad that the chef would prepare the night before. Fishing trips were both fun and frequent, and I remember thinking how lucky I was to be rich.

    My parents would often times take us all out to dinner, and not to just any restaurant, they would take us to the finest, most expensive restaurant in town. The food was prepared from scratch; vegetables were hand cut, not prepackaged. The cook would often come out and check to see if his cooking met our high expectations. After the meal, Dad would always pull out a large tip and leave it on the table. I remember thinking about all of the wonderful things I could buy with such a large tip. Oh yes, being rich is wonderful.

    Another one of our favorite past-times was going to the theater to take in a show. Now this was no ordinary theater. They sent out special invitations to certain patrons outlining upcoming theater attractions, and of course, we were part of this elite clientele. When our family came, Mom and Dad were called by their first names, as we were politely ushered to the best seats in the house. Once we were seated, Mom or Dad would give us money to buy some refreshments, and not just a paltry sum. We were given the same amount that Dad had left for a tip at the fine restaurant. The show was always entertaining, and we always left happy.

    In the winter, arrangements were made for our family to enjoy a true winter wonderland amusement park. All of the finest amenities were available to us. There was ice-skating, sledding, skiing, and other winter fun. Arrangements were made for our family and a few selected guests to have exclusive use of these facilities. When we chose to go ice-skating we had our choice of two different ice skating rinks, a smaller one that was convenient for parents with small children, and a larger one that was ideal for teenagers. The sledding runs were varied in degrees of difficulty. Skiing was available, but for some reason wasn’t as popular as the other activities. The most popular activity was the famous sled pull. This consisted of hooking one to three sleds to the back of one of the snow machines and being pulled by a very capable operator through the immense park grounds. Hot chocolate and a hot meal were always readily available for our pleasure.

    As fun as the winter months were the summer months were a little more fun. As mentioned earlier we would go on many trips. The best one usually took place at the end of July. We would travel to one of the premiere vacation spots of the West. Along with our cousins we stayed at a large resort situated on the shores of a large lake in the mountains. Nothing was too good for us kids. Every imaginable water sport was provided for us, including skiing and fishing. Oh yes, being rich is the best.

    Now as you can see I lived a very rich life as a child, one that most kids can only dream. I imagine that some may be saying, a life like that would be easy if you had plenty of money. Well let me tell you very few of the things I enjoyed as a child came from being rich with money but rather rich with love. I came from a family that could not afford endless and senseless material wealth. But rather my parents choose to fill our lives with riches of love. What could be more cherished by a child than his dad rushing home from work to watch his son’s basketball game, or the gentle caress and sweet kiss as a mother tucks her child in bed. Yes I was rich, rich beyond measure.

    Now let me explain how we did all those fun things without lots of money. On the fishing trips, our expert guide was my Dad. He dug worms for us, baited the hook, and cleaned the fish. As for the new fishing pole for each trip, Dad would cut us a willow pole. Our private cook was my Mom, and the gourmet salad was her special potato salad.

    The fine restaurant was the Truck Stop Café, the only restaurant in town. The food was inexpensive and truly tasty. To this day, I have never had a better tasting hamburger and fries. The hamburger was made by hand, and the fries were cut by hand. The large tip consisted of one or two quarters.

    The fine theater that we went to was the Star Theater, a movie house that showed movies that had been out for a while. The price to get in was thirty-five cents. Dad would give us ten to twenty-five cents, more then enough to buy treats.

    Our winter park was our farm, which had ponds for skating and hills for sledding and skiing. The snow machine that was used to pull the sleds was the family sedan with studded snow tires, and the capable operator was our Mom. The hot meal and hot chocolate was always waiting at our home.

    Or big trip in July was to a truly beautiful mountain lake, which at the time required no reservations and cost very little money. The boat that was used for skiing and fishing was one that my grandpa had bought years ago, and all of we cousins thoroughly enjoyed it.

    Yes, I was born and raised in a rich family, a family rich in love.

    • Hi Keith,

      I am not sure why my blog is not sending these rich comments to my email. When I finally check, it is far later than it should be. I appreciated your long comment–so thoughtful, and your brother’s words. Time to reconnect, my friend. I was trying to remember where I took that picture. I used to travel between Rapid City and the Pine Ridge Reservation to teach every week. Sometimes I stopped and got out of the car and snapped pictures of the beautiful land. Driving through the Badlands were the best part of my day. I think this photo was taken during that time, and I do love the dreaming quality of it.

      Let me know how it goes with the Constellation event. Are you going to schedule one? I am not doing some work in Minneapolis–this work never gets old for me.

      Again, thanks.

  6. Patty…..thanks for sharing this. Your Dad and Mom were very special people. It was a surprise to have Becky move away in her senior year and I missed her dearly. I remember the house you lived before your Dad built the new house. I really remember the kitchen sink when I came for Becky & Steve’s Wedding. Gosh those memories of Winters in Babbitt came flooding back when I read this post. Thanks again for sharing parts of your life. ~Melanie

    • Hi Melanie,

      Yes, my Mom and Dad were very special. I can’t imagine being a part of any other family–they are all deeply set in my heart. And thank you so much for leaving comments. I remember you as this beautiful long-haired girl–I wanted to look just like you when I grew up.

  7. Hey Sis FYI the track for the skidoo did work for most of that winter.
    Do you remember being pulled on a old car hood as a sled behind a Renault car. We went up and down those county roads for hours of fun.

    • Yes, I remember. I also remember a very looooong toboggan and an old truck down in the field. We lined up like sardines on that toboggan. Loved it. I also remember him flooding our own little rink–not too successfully. Loved winters in Babbitt.

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