OPINION: Global warming and ice skating

OPINION: Global warming and ice skating

I’ve come to state the obvious: It is not cold.

Oh, you could quibble. It is cold if it were July. Certainly. It is cold if it were October. Perhaps.

But January? Not cold.

I’m trying to think of when it was cold. It was cold last year. A year ago it was so cold Memorial Park was open for ice skating. This was thanks “to a stretch of freezing winter temperatures that made the pond safe” for skating, said a recent Record-Journal story, which was less about how it was freezing a year ago in Southington and more about how it has not been freezing  since.

Winter has only just started, but if it isn’t freezing enough to ice skate around the time of the solstice it’s not likely to be freezing enough after — at least not without artificial assistance — on account of the days getting longer, every day a little bit, which gives the sun an increasing opportunity to warm things up. That’s good for solar panels, maybe; not good for ice skating.

There were times when it was taken for granted that Mother Nature would make it cold enough to ice skate around these parts. There was “skate and date” at Mirror Lake, in Meriden. It was a big thing in the 1960s at Memorial Park, too. Put on your ice skates and meet your future spouse, potentially. You could start skating before Christmas and keep skating into February and even March. This is the way it was for years. Before there was refrigeration, they would take chunks of ice out of the lake for your ice box.

Decades ago, as in up to the 1990s, an article announcing that Hubbard Park was ready for ice skating was an annual feature in the Record-Journal. That’s a long time gone now, and now ponds that people think might be places for ice skating have to be shallow, and sometimes it still isn’t going to work out because it doesn’t stay cold enough long enough.

I have a hard time with this, because the older I get the less I like the cold and the more I have to give myself a good talking to when it comes to embracing winter. But when mud season comes in the winter and not in the spring like it’s supposed to, my aversion to cold seems trivial.

A decade ago I was told that it was too soon to deliver the verdict of global warming, despite what was an already long-established pattern of lost ice-skating opportunity. Some decades are warmer than others, it was said, and it goes in cycles.

In the meantime, at the end of last year it was reported that 2018 was on track to be Earth’s fourth-warmest year on record. This I gleaned from the web site of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which, incidentally, is not being updated because parts of the U.S. government are closed. Anyway, 2017 was the third-warmest year, following three years of record-high temperatures. And, of course, in November a scientific report issued by 13 federal agencies presented the most dire warnings yet about climate change.

The tales of decades-gone “skate and date” and ice harvesting are worth telling because after strings of record warm years, it starts to feel normal. Those stories remind us of what’s gone missing.

Near the corner of Pratt and Cedar streets in Meriden the other day, Hector Cardona was watching the demolition of the last piece of the Mills Memorial Apartments. It was a place of childhood memories for the former police officer. “It’s sad to see it go,” he told an R-J reporter. “I loved it, you know, but you gotta move on.”

Is it too much to observe that we don’t want to be saying something like that about our collective home, this planet?

Reach Jeffery Kurz at 203-317-2213, or jkurz@record-journal.com.