A pond is transformed, and gifts abound

Steve Rubicz, Marta Gelmini, Gary Peterson and Talia Skelly stay upright on the ice. - Leslie Brown/staff photo
Steve Rubicz, Marta Gelmini, Gary Peterson and Talia Skelly stay upright on the ice.
— image credit: Leslie Brown/staff photo

Fisher Pond beckoned last week.

Its surface a thick sheen of ice, it called to the Island. And Islanders, in droves, responded.

They skated. Played hockey. Sledded. Rode bikes. Even, to the dismay of some, built bonfires and hung out on the silvery sheen at night.

According to old-timers, last week’s freeze — six full days of rock-solid ice — was the best since 1995. And what unfolded, as a result, was the best Vashon has to offer: A spontaneous community celebration, held on a splendid little pond that was bequeathed to the Island more than a decade ago.

Indeed, gifts were aplenty last week. There was the gift of the pond, now owned by the Vashon-Maury Island Land Trust. The gift of nature, which transformed the pond into a public playground. And the gift of skates. Dozens and dozens of pairs of them.

Gary and Linda Peterson brought their trove; Luke Lukoskie brought his. The trio, avid skaters, has been collecting skates for decades, picking them up at second-hand stores and stashing them in boxes for just such an occasion.

As a result, Islanders gathered at the shores of the pond, pawed through boxes and, if they were lucky, found a pair that fit.

“I haven’t been on skates in 35 years,” said a red-cheeked Laura Bienen, as she sped past. “It’s totally worth it. It’s so fun.”

“It’s such a great Vashon event,” said Alia Payne, 16, smiling broadly. “You couldn’t do this in Seattle.”

Shortly after she spoke, a helicopter made several passes over the pond, close enough to the ground that skaters could make out a KING-TV insignia on its side.

Lukoskie, who grew up in Duluth, Minn., said he and the Petersons lug their boxes of skates to the shores of Fisher Pond whenever it freezes over in part to relive their childhoods. Lukoskie recalled skating as a child in Duluth, where city officials flooded the baseball field to create a rink and civic-minded residents sold hot cocoa from a kiosk.

Fisher Pond’s transformation is similar — although in some ways sweeter, he said.

“You don’t see the road. You feel like you’re in the middle of a wilderness,” he said.

Peterson, who skated four hours a day almost every day last week, said he couldn’t help but bring his stash of skates to the pond.

“It’s hard to say no to so many faces,” he said, glancing around at the scene.

The trio is now raising money to take their community contribution to the next level. They hope to find the funds to purchase a blade-sharpener — an $800 item — or find a used one someone is willing to donate so that they can enhance their skates, many of which are showing their age.

Meanwhile, in what seemed to fit the spirit of last week’s magic, a strange thing happened to their stash of skates, Lukoskie said. When they left with their boxes Sunday, they found they had about 20 additional pairs.

“I don’t know how it happened,” Lukoskie said. “But I’m pretty sure the pile is growing.”

Islanders who would like to donate to the blade-sharpening fund can e-mail Luke Lukoskie at

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