Waiting for the green flag on the ponds

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What a frigid start to winter we've had this year. As I was driving by the frozen ponds in the heart of town, I was reminded of one of my favorite moments in my time here in Monroe.

It was a beautiful winter Sunday, a SuperBowl Sunday, in fact, and the sun was strong but the January air was crisp and cold. My two daughters - then four and six - were fresh off skating lessons and since the game wasn't going to start till late afternoon, I got them all bundled up and the three of us journeyed to the Ponds in Monroe.

A night-before flurry coated the icy pond with an inch of new snow, but I brought my shovel along with the intention of clearing a small "rink" for them to practice their new skill.

We were the only ones there when I laced up their skates while they sat in the backseat with their feet dangling out of the car. I told them to wait for a minute as I, as fast as I could, shovel out enough space for them to get on the ice.

Since they were young, they didn't need that much area to have fun, so I proceeded to keep going, widening the shovelled area further and further out.

After about 15 minutes, I looked up to see how my girls were doing, and much to my surprise, there were others who had joined them in skating.

As I looked further, I saw about 15-20 kids and adults enjoying the space I had cleared.

Parents had brought about picnic chairs and were sitting on the grass near the edge, and more cars were pulling up.

Then, one of the fathers came out to meet me, since I had gotten pretty far out on the pond, and he told me to take a rest, as he had brought his own shovel to continue my work.

I was heartwarmed as I skated back to see my girls and the others frolicking around on the ice. When I got to the edge, a parent who I did not know gave me her story: "We were driving through and saw you out here with your shovel and we said to ourselves, 'We're going to come grab our shovels and our friends and come back here to help you out'."

They offered me a can of soda and I sipped it and thought it was too bad Norman Rockwell wasn't around that day as he would've captured the scene in his wonderful way.

I'll always remember that day as one the best moments of my time in Monroe, and I'll always remember the feeling of community, humanity and the warm spirit a small town like Monroe gave to me.

I look forward to that green flag flying this winter, so we can perhaps recapture that feeling on the ice one more time.

Dr. Steven J. Pavia

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