I believe in the smell of ice.
My childhood was spent in western New York, in snow covered Buffalo. Ice was a way of life. Everywhere else the world seemed naked without a blanket of snow to cover it.
The immediate hours after school were spent at the public skating rink. Mom drove my brother and I everyday. She taught me how to tie laces at that rink. We felt more comfortable in skates than in our own sneakers. Beginners’ four blades. Figure skates. Hockey skates. We learned them all. Mom and I would race around the rink, mimicking the speed skaters we watched in the Olympics. Strides and glides. Crossovers through the turns. Her smile grew as we challenged each other for the finish line.
The entire building would be full of joy. We didn’t just skate, we flew. On the best days a fog would lift off the surface giving us clouds to soar through. The world always seemed to blur. Time slowed. All that remained was that pure scent.
The smell of ice.
Under starry winter nights, Dad and I would ride the subway downtown to the Aud. Game night at the hockey rink. I was always so happy I never could sit still in my seat. Standing, holding on to the metal poles and I would watch the electric lights pass us by. Cheers would already be humming beneath my breath.
Let’s go Buffalo. Clap. Clap. Clap-Clap-Clap. Let’s go Buffalo. Clap. Clap. Clap-Clap-Clap.
The vibrations of the night would travel among us through the tunnels of the Aud like the growing roll of a battle drum. The crowd grew in size as the hallways tightened. Fans were always dressed in support of our team. With so many jerseys being worn it always felt like the ghosts of past seasons were walking with us. Our favorite players long departed but never gone. To this day, I still carry mine everywhere.
Perrault. Lafontaine. Mogilny.
Then the crowd would part in front of me and the world opened up. I could see the seats full of fans, the rafters carrying our banners and the brightness of it all.
A coliseum surrounding a skating rink. All of it brought together for that ice. That pure white ice, whose job it was to be the battleground for a game of the gods.
We’d hurry to our seats so we wouldn’t miss our team take to the ice.
Here’s your Buffalo Sabres, the Aud’s voice would announce.
Then the Blue and Gold rushed out onto the surface. It would be such a fantastic moment, everyone would silently breathe in the anticipation.
And there it would be. For all of us to taste. The smell of ice.
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