Pictures And Dreams

I’m a sucker.

Each fall, just before Halloween, the catalog from an outdoor ice-rink supplier lands on my desk. Inside are pictures and pictures and pictures of backyard ice rinks parents just like me have built for their kids.

Each year, I look through that catalog for ideas I can steal for my rink--things like painting lines on the ice, new ideas for lighting the rink, new ideas for using netting to trap errant pucks (and keep them out of my neighbor’s windows) and so on.

After much dreaming and scheming (code for negotiating with my wife), I finalize my plan, fork over my dough, rally the troops and get to work.

When I started this process, my oldest was 5. Together, he and I (well mostly “I”) screwed oversized plywood boards together and dropped in the liner. We had a blast that first winter--inviting friends over to nighttime skating sessions and bonfires.

My son is now 15 and our backyard ice rink tradition continues. Through the years, I’ve traded out my plywood boards for plastic boards, added bumper caps, added kick plates, changed and re-changed the configuration (one year we built the rink around trees with odd angles--bad idea), purchased a hand-held ice re-surfacer (I call it my Zamboni) and hockey pucks that light up whenever you hit them.

This year when that dang catalog showed up, I stealed myself against the temptation within and got away with just ordering a replacement liner, and, like most years, discovered a picture that gave me some ideas for softening the corners of my rink without changing the configuration.

It was a “Eureka!” moment--and I can’t way to see how it works out.

This month’s issue is designed with the hope that you will find a picture or product that demands your attention and leads to your own “Eureka!” moment.

It’s clearly a departure from our normal format, which means it’s way outside the box. I think that’s O.K., especially at this time of the year, but would rather hear it from you.

If you get a moment, shoot me a note and let me know what you think of this issue. Is it helpful? Do you have any suggestions for improvement?

We're planning to continue publishing our Project Portfolio--and like my backyard rink--we plan to make it bigger and badder each and every year.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

Rodney J. Auth


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