When it’s really cold (a phenomenon known as “fucking cold, eh?” in Canada), the sky is crisp blue and it’s extremely dry. If you are indoors and glance out of the window, you could assume it’s a warm day because of the sun. Don’t. Just don’t. “Sunny” equals “cold”—this is one of the first Canadian mathematical formulas I learned here.
On one of these cold days (- 25°C with wind-chill), we headed to the Rideau Canal. The “world’s largest skating rink” is one of Ottawa’s most famous landmarks, and with a cleared length of 7.8 kilometres, it’s a huge frozen playground for skating enthusiasts.
Every year since I came to Canada, I want to skate on the Canal. And every year, I look at the price of rental skates and I think I could buy my own skates for that price. And you guessed it, eight years later I have yet to rent skates or buy my own. So I walk on the ice. All things considered, it’s probably better considering I often take my camera with me. I can skate (for some reason, my hometown in France had a very popular skating rink) but I’m probably rusty and the ice on the Canal isn’t that smooth.
It’s funny to notice that despite the huge crowds and the popularity of winter sports in Canada, there aren’t that many good skaters around. Sure, you see people here and there skating backwards and doing all kinds of cool stuff, but most people just glide on two feet, more or less successfully.
Right before the weekend, paramedics shared advice on how to prevent injuries (broken bones on the Canal do happen a lot). “Just use a hockey helmet. If you don’t have one, take a bike helmet, or any kind of helmet you have at home.” I turned to Feng: “Are we the only Canadian household without any kind of helmet at home?” I asked. What can I say…! I grew up in France in the 1980s, at a time when seat belts in cars didn’t exist and when falling from a bike and getting bloody knees was the best way to learn!