A few times this winter, the ice rink at the sculpture garden on the national mall was closed because it was just too warm outside. I bet it must happen near the end of the season each year, but I have never witnessed it. Yet, this year I saw the rink closed a few times, and sadly, in the heart of the winter months.
This particular day, birds were flying around and singing loudly and the sun was bright. The rink area was entirely blocked off – no one was allowed to even sit around the periphery – which is a favorite area for the humans to perch.
I took a picture (above) that shows some workers with shovels, hacking at the ice that was melting. Why didn't they just let the rink alone until the temps drop again? Why were they breaking up what little ice there was?
I don't know.
As I sat alone on a wooden bench nearby, people wandered into the park and some commented to each other about the rink closure. Most seemed to be tourists.
"Oh look – an ice rink…oh no, it's closed. What a shame."
"No reason to stay and have lunch here – the good seating is blocked off."
"I hope it gets cold again so we can skate before we leave."
I was just one of very few people that day who chose to sit outside the rink area. And I wondered where this change in weather was headed.
Maybe now we just have a few days in winter where it's this warm but what happens in a decade, two decades, or more? Surely the number of hot, sunny days will just increase.
Will we use more energy to keep the ice rink cold enough? Do we abandon the idea entirely of converting the pond into a rink in the winter and just leave the pond of water as is, year round?
Whether or not they stopped to notice (and comment) on the fact that the ice rink was closed, most people walked through the park quickly, only briefly pausing to admire the blossoming of dogwood trees and other signs of plant life emerging so very early in the year. Some took pictures.
This was just a snapshot of the new normal.