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On Ice Skating with Sophie

One thing led to the other & yesterday Sophie (my 4 year old granddaughter) & I ended up at the ice skating rink at Chelsea Piers, the mammoth sports facility on the banks of the Hudson River in New York City. It has been close to thirty years since I last put on ice skates: Sophie never has. Being a sensibly cautious person (not one of my salient characteristics), Sophie finally put on her skates–after carefully observing everyone and everything & talking about the difference between ice over water that skaters could possibly fall through & ice over a hard surface–and off we went: the oldest and the youngest skaters in the rink. And, by oldest I mean by about 35 years! (Reread my earlier admission that “being a sensibly cautious person is not one of my salient characteristic” and you’ll understand why I didn’t wonder whether or not I’d remember how to skate; fortunately my muscles did.) We started out with Sophie holding onto the railing with one hand & my hand with the other. Being focused on managing my own skates so as not to fall or trip Sophie, I didn’t try to teach her anything except to briefly explain about pushing with the toe of one skate and gliding on the other, or something like that. About half way around, we switched to her being about 3 or so feet in front of me and me holding both her hands. My strategy was to keep pace with her by pushing with my right foot. Her technique came from closely watching other people & imagining she was a horse pulling me. After about an hour of skating and brief breaks, I stumbled and fell taking Sophie down with me. I sprawled: she sat down, kerplunk! We weren’t hurt, just surprised, although I must admit I was embarrassed when the “rink safety person” suddenly appeared to help me up (was my gray hair magnetic, I wondered). No harm done we were up and off again. Another round and I stumbled again–one foot, then the other. Yikes! I thought. Then, amazingly I found myself staying upright. Why? Because Sophie, who was skating in front & holding my hands, kept me steady. When we took a break, Sophie said, “Grammie, I held you up.” “Yes, you saved me from falling. How did you know to do that?” “I felt you stumble again & held you up,” she matter-of-factly replied.

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