If You Build It …

Conventional wisdom holds that to survive in Minnesota,  you must embrace winter.  Perhaps that explains the view from my kitchen:

In case you are wondering: that is a hockey rink. That’s right – a backyard rink.  This winter, we decided to build a hockey rink in our backyard.

You might ask why anyone in their right mind would turn their entire backyard into a hockey rink?  Well, we’ve got a couple of reasons:

The rationale for the backyard rink is that the kids will be able to just go right out the back door and skate anytime.  Fresh air is better than screentime and all that.  Ten minutes of skating is better than fighting with your brother, yada yada yada.  We thought it might be nice to have a project that the family could work on together over winter break.  Kind of like Swiss Family Robinson but with fewer pirates and more cocoa.

But what about the grass, you ask?  Well, we aren’t fancy here.  We’ve never really bonded with our “Freedom Lawn” of broadleaf and dandelions.  We don’t, frankly, have a very good record on lawncare.  This was the view from our front porch last summer:

By now, you are probably on pins and needles, waiting to hear about the logistics of  building a backyard rink.  You can buy a rink-in-a-box or you can google “how to build your own rink”, which is what we did. Here is how we (and by “we”, I mean my husband) built ours.

First, you build the boards. (Allow extra time for extra trips to Home Depot.)

Next you cover your backyard with a giant sheet of plastic.  This one was custom-made to fit  our backyard from the patio to the apple tree. Yes, there are companies that specialize in this sort of thing.  AND they survived the recession!

Then you add water. Freeze.

Add more water. Freeze.

Then you wait.

And wait.

And wait some more.

Are we crazy?  No, definitely not. If we were crazy, we would also be building one of these suckers:

Instead, we’ve got one of these:

It is customary in Minnesota to greet people in the winter with a cheerful: “Cold enough for ya?”  But it has been unseasonably warm this year and all the people who claim to “just LOVE the change of seasons!” are freaking out.  The record-breaking warmth has also thrown a meteorological monkeywrench into our backyard rink plans.   The whole “water freezing” part has not been working so well in 40 degree weather.

Now that we’ve got our backyard rink built, we believe that Old Man Winter will come. The low tonight is predicted to be in the single digits.  Promising signs this morning that he is on his way:



I’m hopeful that very soon – maybe even by the time you read this – the view from my kitchen window will be my kids and their friends, skating around in our own backyard rink.  I’ll be inside, making the cocoa.