The disaster in our backyard

One of the universal truths about life it that sometimes the most difficult situations are the ones that create the best and most long-lasting memories.
These are the times when everyone in a family has to set aside his or her agenda and expectations and work together as a team. They have to think strategically and problem solve together. And sometimes, they have to race against time to work toward a solution.
That’s what happened to our family this morning. And I’m certain that someday we all will look back at Dec. 26, 2016, and be able to laugh at how we worked together to fix the disaster in our backyard.
As many people know, we built an ice rink in our back yard this year. This is the fourth year that we have built a rink, so we consider ourselves somewhat experienced in how to build a solid rink that will endure for the winter. However, it was the first time we had built a rink at our new house, and it was the largest rink that we had ever built.

For the past week, we have been excessively excited about the fun and joy the rink has brought our family. Our kids have had lots of friends over and spent hours during the day and into the evening outside skating. The kids have played broom ball, we taught our youngest to skate, my husband and I have enjoyed skating and we have had big plans to invite friends over throughout the Christmas break for some outdoor fun.
I wasn’t too concerned when I heard the temperature was going to suddenly rise to nearly 60 degrees today. What’s the worst that could happen? I assumed the ice would melt, giving us a nice smooth surface to skate. No worries.
This morning, we were getting our things together to head out to celebrate Christmas with our family. We could see out the window that the rink was full of water, but we still weren’t concerned. The hubs went out to check on things, and when he came back in, he delivered the startling news.
“The ice rink is done.”
I struggled for several minutes to comprehend the meaning of the word, “done.”
I went outside to see for myself.
Constructing a backyard ice rink is a fairly simple process. It’s basically a wooden frame, an enormous piece of plastic and a ton of water. Because the yard at this house has a slight incline, the back of the rink is about two feet deeper than the front of the rink. My husband had built a large wall at the back of the rink to hold the extra water. The plastic was clamped to the top of that wall.
As the ice melted and the wind picked up overnight, the plastic had been pulled away from the clamps. It had been pulled under the water and was sitting at the bottom. There was no way to pull the plastic back up because it was weighed down by an enormous iceberg that is 35 feet wide by 45 feet long, mixed with thousands of gallons of freezing water.
As we both stood looking at the situation, our minds were racing with the inevitable situation before us. Without the plastic tarp as a barrier, water was already leaking out several cracks in the wooden wall. It was only 8 a.m., so the ice would continue to melt as the temperature rose all day. The water would continue to pour out the back. We needed to leave town in three hours and while we were gone, the water would freeze again, trapping the tarp underneath. We wouldn’t be able to fill the rink again because we wouldn’t have the tarp to hold the water. So basically, several hundred dollars in materials and water and about 40 hours of work were now all going to waste.
As my husband said, “Done.”
“We can’t leave.”
I’m not sure why this thought had not crossed our minds before. We were going to have to all deal with our sadness of missing my family gathering. We needed to stay here and come up with a plan.
His suggestion sounded crazy to me.
First, we would need to drain the water. I watched in dismay as we purposely let thousands of gallons of water pour out the back of the rink.
Next, he would use a chainsaw to cut the ice the length of the rink about five feet in from the wall.

We would remove the huge chunks of ice.

We would remove the wall and pull out the separated sheets of ice.

We would pull up the tarp.

We would move the back wall in about five feet, reattach the tarp, patch the holes and have some chance of saving the rink.

All hands on deck.
For the next six hours, my husband and the kids went to work. (I mainly took photos, made food and cleaned up after everyone.)
I remarked several times that I was very thankful we had a 60 degree day to get this done. “If it wasn’t 60 degrees we wouldn’t have this problem!” my son kept reminding me.
We raced against rising temps that threatened to melt more ice, letting even more water pour out before my husband could reassemble the wall.

Shockingly, after a full day of hard labor and team work, the rink is looking good. We went from thinking the situation was hopeless, to creating a plan and working together to make it happen. Everything is put back together, and we are hoping the holes in the plastic are sealed. We are all sad we didn’t get to be with family today, and everyone is sore and tired.

Hopefully, sometime in the future when everyone is warm and dry or maybe skating on the rink, this day will make us smile. Maybe someday, this day will stand out from all the rest as one of those days when we worked together to solve a crisis.

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