WinterSoul#2 – Ice Lanterns


“And guess what? Marina’s god mother has given her a star ice lantern mold. The perfect thing! How could she have known? We create our first ice lantern. It is magical. It is a pillar shaped star with a hollow inside it for a candle. We take our brand new ice lantern down to the rink. Once lit, the softest light shines from within the ice. And so begins the creation of ice lanterns. We are old hats at making coloured frozen blocks for snow forts using water and food colouring. Each day we make a new coloured lantern. Their soft light during twilight is magical. They are lit up like miniature igloos in a twilight world. We begin to skate less during the day and more in early morning and around sunset and after.” from my Journal of an Ice Rink, 2007

Looking back at this journal entry from 12 years ago, I am reminded how difficult (nay, impossible) it is to keep them lit if there is any breeze at all. A day without wind in Saskatchewan is a rare gift. I wonder if the winter of 2007-8 was a relatively calm one? In the years since, I have a list of people who I text if it is going to be an “ice lantern evening” (in other words, there is no wind), because I don’t really know for sure until the sun starts to set. Sometimes 2 people come, and on one memorable occasion 20 or 30 came. Amazingly, no one got hurt , many of us skating in wonder as the lanterns lit the ice. I was in total amazement at the hockey players amongst us, mostly young, who were zipping around like hummingbirds on steroids, having a ball!!

The next entries are from the same journal that starts this blog post. And while the sun rises I describe were often pale salmons and pinks and golds, the limitations of my phone camera are such that it can’t catch the exact light when the lanterns are lit. Perhaps between the writing and the photos, you can get  a bit of the feeling of how it is to skate during these magic hours.

My favourite skates have been around dawn and dusk. In the morning, when the sky is still dark and gradually lightens, the sunrise quite visible from the dugout, reflecting off the steel barn, fingers of light touching the rink.  The wonder of skating at this time is that the morning beauty remains planted in my soul for the whole day.

This morning – ALMOST no wind, some stars still out, a luminous half moon, bright shadows, hoar frost. I light the star lanterns. They are so lovely and simple (water, food colouring, a candle). They add to but do not blind the nightlight. Dark prevails or a sort of twilight dark. How I love it! A simple peace fills me, a quiet joy. I feel right with the world. After awhile, I sit quietly, just breathing, in out, joining heart and head, puffs of breath joining the morning air. The gift of being right here, right now fills me. I feel love all around. I skate again, feeling so connected to the ice, the bleached dry grass in snow, the snow drifts, the sky, feeling my body move, my soul expand, my spirit flying across the ice. A holy place, a holy time. Indeed.

In memory the ice rink has become a string of dawns and dusks, a necklace really, each soft dawn and dusk like an opal. Around sunrise, this is the hymn that comes to mind.

Bright morning stars are a’rising

Bright morning stars are a’rising

Bright morning stars are a’rising

Day is a breaking in my soul (Traditional/Appalachian)

Journal of an Ice Rink, 2007

Ice lantern molds can be ordered from Lee Valley Tools.