I was skating along this morning, as the sun was rising, remembering skating as a kid. My skating is, like most of my physical activities, good enough to enjoy but on the uncoordinated side. I learned to skate in Toronto, at an outdoor rink that, remembering Toronto, was probably open about 4 days a year. My parents held my hands. Then we moved to Thunder Bay, where the rink was closed about 4 days a year. We lived across the street from a large park that had 3 skating rinks - 2 with full boards for hockey, and a smaller one for those of us unable to skate and carry a stick at the same time.
We used to skate every day until our feet froze, then come in and my mom would make hot chocolate while we cried as our feet warmed up.
Then we moved to Ottawa, and got to experience the joy of skating in a straight line in the open air for miles. Can't stop or turn? The canal is the place for you. Don't like crowds? The canal before 9am or after dark is a wide open underpopulated space.
OK, so the surface isn't exactly Zamboni-smooth, but it's pretty good. I think I like skating for the same reason I like biking - you can go pretty fast on your own power for a long time, and don't need to be very good at it to go faster than you can run.
I've been out twice in the 2 days since the full length has been opened. Tomorrow's forecast? Rain. Fuck global warming. Ah well, at least I have the memory of a great skate.