Families, volunteers labor to keep the ice at town rinks open
Though the weather might not always cooperate, the magic of ice skating continues to be a popular winter pastime thanks to recreation departments, volunteers, and in at least one case, a very hungry beaver.
For the last couple of years, Susan and Rodney Danielson and their neighbors on Brentwood Road in Exeter have been plagued by the presence of a beaver (or two) making dams and creating small swamps in their back yards. The town has been working on removing the pesky critter, but in the meantime, the Danielsons have decided to have a little fun with the gift from the beaver.
"During the summer the beaver dam was a huge problem," said Rodney Danielson. "But now it's just great."
Armed with snow shovels, the Danielsons, along with their daughters Greta, 15, and Bridget, 12, broke a trail through the underbrush from their back yard to the flooded culverts on the side of the road and began clearing the ice.
For years, the Danielsons erected a small, temporary skating rink in their yard, but that rink became too small as the girls got older.
"I grew up in Minnesota and if we wanted to skate, we'd just shovel off a pond or a ditch filled with water and we'd skate," said Rodney Danielson.
"We're kind of hoping a hockey game will break out," said Susan Danielson.
In Amherst, a flooded patch of conservation land in Amherst village has evolved into a temporary rink maintained each year by a group of volunteers. On Sunday morning, Albie Sampson was out on the rink, installed by the recreation department using lumber and a plastic liner, making sure the low spots were filled in. Using a pair of watering cans and a wide shovel, he added water to low areas and smoothed the ice with a shovel.
"There are about four of us who kind of maintain the rink," said Sampson. "We add water at night to try to get the water levels up and bring in a little skimmer and a hose after the kids skate to smooth out the ice."
Sampson said there are upward of 60 people at the rink on a good weekend day.
When the snow is falling gently in the village, there's nothing more beautiful than "going out and feeling the experience of winter while skating," he said.
Sampson said he encourages folks with young kids to have their children wear helmets while skating.
Though Liz Terrell hasn't put on a pair of skates in decades, she has tried to continue the tradition of skating for her own children. She took them to the temporary rink at Shepard Park in Milford while in the area visiting her family for the holidays.
"We don't go a lot," she said, "but we've been taking the kids skating every year since my son Eli was six and Phoebe was four."
Terrell said she tries to buy skates at consignment shops or other places that sell used sports equipment.
"They grow out of them so fast, it doesn't make sense to buy new ones every year," she said.