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I sat in the living room, trying to decide whether or not I should actually go outside. It was almost dinnertime, after all, and it was probably too cold to stay out for any length of time. I contemplated the situation for several valuable minutes, and finally decided that since I had already taken the trouble to lace one of my skates up, I might as well go ahead and go out. Having made this decision, I finished getting myself bundled up and left the house.
As I closed the kitchen door, I turned on my walkman and zipped up my jacket. The Canadian Brass' rendition of Pachelbel's Canon started to play in my headphones as I tripped up the driveway, trying not to slip on the ice or lose a skate guard. The hundred yards or so between the house and the pond seemed like miles, and I was very relieved when I could finally take off the skate guards and use my skates on the smooth ice for which they were intended.
The pond was beautiful. I had expected it to be pretty badly marked up, since I had skated on slush a few days before. Fortunately, the slushy mess had apparently melted and refrozen, leaving most of the ice as hard and smooth as glass.
The sun had almost gone down. It was one of those cloudy, rosy sunsets where the sun lights up big, thick clouds and turns the whole western sky pink. The snow was a shiny, pale pink, and the ice was the dark grayish pink that the Sears Catalogue calls "dusty rose." Even I, who do not particularly like the color pink, was forced to admit that it was a beautiful scene.
One of the speakers on my walkman stopped playing.The speakers are fairly new, but there was a loose connection in the cassette player which made one of the speakers stop, sometimes, and which represented a large thorn in my side because a broken screw on the outside of the machine had prevented me from taking it apart and fixing the problem. Annoyed, I readjusted the mass of tape and rubber bands holding the headphone plug in place. The sound came back.
Smooth ice is really a miracle on a pond in Maine. If there is slush or snow on the pond when it freezes, if leaves or sticks fall in the water, if too many people skate on the ice, or even if snow has to be shoveled off the ice, the surface is marred and the skating is not as good. I took advantage of my good luck and started skidding and spinning around the pond, trying to enjoy every inch of ice before the storm came the next day and ruined it.
Suddenly it occurred to me that not only the ice, but the skating itself was miraculous. In the first place, only a year before, a knee injury had left me unable to walk, much less skate. In the second place, the laws of physics should have precluded my moving in this fashion. Really, I was hydroplaning, skimming along on a thin film of water. That was as good as walking on water, which was only one step short of flying, as far as I was concerned. Here I was, flying, without the aid of any noisy engine, or wind, or even wings. It was as if I had a magic carpet.
I skated around the pond, lost in thought. Gradually, the ground began to sink from beneath my feet. It was some time before I noticed this, and when I finally looked down to see what was going on, I saw that I was sitting on a magic carpet. Jupiter, from The Planets was playing in my ears, and as the strings soared to their highest notes, I watched the treetops disappear below me. I was flying east, away from the sun, and into the starry night.
I had a rather difficult time deciding how I felt about this flying carpet. Naturally, I was excited, since I had been assured that it was impossible for a rug to fly. On the other hand, though, I had deep-seated doubts about the safety of flying, and, as I glided out over the Atlantic, I found myself wishing I had a seatbelt.
The Early Light Consort's medley of the Pachelbel i and Jolly Old Saint Nicholas had just started to play when Europe appeared on the horizon. I began to wonder how fast I was going, how one would go about steering this vehicle, and where the state troopers were.The sight of Paris, where it is well known that there are no traffic laws, reminded me that it didn't matter where the state troopers were because A) I was now out of their area of jurisdiction, and B) I didn't have a license plate, so they couldn't identify me later. This discovery put my mind substantially to rest, because it does not matter how fast you go if there's no one there to give you a ticket. Now my only problem was to figure out how to steer. This may seem like a relatively minor detail, but it was very important to me, because I was dying to buzz some of the buildings on the ground.
By this time, I was out over the Mediterranean, and I was just starting to forget my worries and enjoy myself when ... BANG!!! I hit a speed bump! Can you imagine that? They didn't even post one of those "bump" signs they put up on the flat parts of Route 9. How could they do that to me?! I'll bet I lost my oil pan! I felt a jolt as I landed, chin first, on the ice. My imagination had sent my mind soaring off to Europe on a magic carpet and left my body skating around a frozen pond in Maine.
When body and mind are separated, the body often forgets to look where it is going, with the result that it doesn't see problems that could endanger its precarious balance. Even smooth ice has built-in hazards, like the group of air bubbles that had left some little craters at the edge of the pond, just waiting to catch the picks on my skates. Skating on automatic pilot, I had become their bruised and embarrassed victim. I picked myself up and looked around. The Mediterranean had been replaced by our dark, snowy blueberry field, and my magic carpet had been replaced by ice skates. My tape had ended, leaving me without music, and even the pink glow of sunset had gone. I went over to the side of the pond to find my skate guards. At least dinner would be waiting for me when I got to the house. That was one thing that even harsh reality couldn't take away from me. n