It turns out that while some people deal with Ithaca winter by whining about it incessantly, other people get proactive.  That’s certainly true of the Conuel family who, taking their cue from a Fall Creek neighbor and some Forest Home friends, brought a classic winter pastime to their backyard:

That’s right — no bundling up and hauling off to Cass Park or The Rink for this family.  Mom and Dad can just relax indoors while their rowdy wintry bunch skate out their energy right outside the kitchen window.  From right after school to early evening, the Conuel backyard rink is the place to be, and one Conuel kid has even been known to hit the ice first thing in the very early morning.  (A passion for hockey makes children do amazing things.)

It turns out that the backyard ice rink has a subculture all its own.  There’s an entire book written about itHome Ice, by Jack Falla (which, for reasons I don’t understand, appears to be selling on Amazon for $700.  I’m telling you, this backyard rink stuff is a big deal.)  Jack Falla writes primarily about the nostalgic and community-building value of the backyard rink, but the book also includes an appendix on how to build your own rink.  The Conuels drew from this and other sources, including advice from friends and internet sites such as this one, to build their own version.  With Mama Diane as the brains and Papa Jeff as the executor, the Conuel Rink is on its second successful year, with this season featuring exciting improvements like a sound system (built right into the deck!  AMAZING.) I can only imagine what next year’s edition will bring.

Watching the Conuel kids and friends glide gleefully around their very own backyard was almost enough to thaw the ice from my winter-hating heart, and I briefly fantasized about what life would be like with my very own backyard rink.  (Then I remembered that it takes me 3 months to get my husband to change a lightbulb, and scrapped the idea.)  What about you, though?  Anyone out there ready to build their own home ice, or anyone else who already has?  Let us know in the comments!

-Meryl at the Goose

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