Where’s Winter?

Logo from the Wakaw Recorder website, wakawrecorder.ca.

Carol Baldwin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wakaw Recorder

“So how about this weather?” is a comment that many may respond to enthusiastically, but for livestock farmers staring at empty water ponds it is nothing if not worrying. They are not the only ones not sharing in the general enthusiasm either. Many small hamlets and villages around the province still maintain their skating rinks with the help of Mother Nature and natural ice is tough to establish when daytime temperatures hover at or above the freezing mark.

Since November, volunteer icemakers in Domremy have been attempting to “get the ice in” and local youngsters are still only looking longingly at their skating rink and hoping that one day very soon the weather will cooperate, and they will be able to don their skates for the first time this season. Hamlets, like Domremy, rely on volunteers to do the regular maintenance and upkeep of facilities like the skating rink, community hall, and playgrounds. Since Domremy is no longer incorporated as a separate municipal entity and is instead part of the RM of St. Louis, the public works responsibilities are conducted by the rural municipality.

For those who have never tackled creating an outdoor rink, it takes more than just pumping a significant amount of water onto the ground or in the case of a skating rink, on the rink surface. It is a process of putting down layers upon layers of ice by flooding the surface and, for natural ice, allowing the freezing outdoor temperatures to solidify the surface. In a year such as this, too much water flooding the surface at one time would melt the underlying ice because the ambient temperature is not cold enough to facilitate a quick freeze. Creating an ice surface this year has required hours and hours of effort and multiple minute applications of water to ever so slowly create the required base. 

To those volunteers who ensure recreation opportunities exist in the hamlets in which they live, it is a dedication to their community that has them giving their time. And to create ice in a winter such as this, those hours are late at night when others are crawling into bed. Seek the volunteers out, and buy them a coffee, they deserve it.