Just Add Water

On Frozen Pond

Making use of our local water, even in winter

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The winter of 2010-2011 made some people question why they live in New England. The Old Farmer’s Almanac is predicting another stormy, cold winter for 2011-2012. Haunting memories of building-sized snow piles are starting to flash through people’s minds. Hopefully, before you pack your bags for warmer climates, thinking of some of the frozen benefits of New England will lift your spirits.

For many, the thought of backbreaking shoveling is giving them the blues. However, this weather may actually be able to bring back a favorite Rhode Island pastime: pond skating. While some aren’t old enough to remember the last time a pond in Southern New England froze thick enough to skate on, others can tell stories of skating across the Sakonnet River between Portsmouth and Tiverton. Whether it’s just skating around in no particular pattern or picking up a game of hockey, there is something magical about skating on an open pond. With the fresh air blowing in your face, the natural ice beneath your feet and the scenic views, an indoor ice rink just can’t compare.

Unfortunately – and not to spark an argument about global warming – the temperature has not dropped low enough to freeze ponds in Southern New England to the necessary minimum of six inch thickness for years now. Many unsatisfied people have been forced to lace up in crowded indoor rinks, enduring the monotonous routine of skating in circles around orange cones at a moderate, controlled pace.

The freedom of a pond that has no hours of operation, no whistle happy attendants trying to slow down your rate of fun and no fees to be paid, offers an experience only available to those fortunate enough to live in such places as Rhode Island; places where the changing of the seasons brings more than just a flip of the page on a calendar, but an entirely new atmosphere to the area.

Although the options may be limited, Goddard State Park in Warwick, Lincoln Woods State Park in Lincoln and Meshanticut State Park in Cranston all offer great outings for the day. Each pond is also regulated to ensure the safety of all visitors, adding that extra incentive not to venture out on any random body of water that might be closer to your home. For more information on what makes ice safe for skating and to keep an eye on when (or if) Rhode Island’s ponds will be approved by the state, check out the Rhode Island State Parks website. So, if a pond does freeze this year, take the opportunity to pile the family in the car, bundle up, and make some memories, because pond skating may soon be only reserved for the history books.