Nancy Roman

Old Dog, New Tricks

It’s the middle of Winter, and it’s gone on way too long. Four days of Winter is probably enough for me. One day of snow, One day of Christmas, One day of sitting by the fire… oh wait, I hate the fourth day too. Make that three days.

Anyway, here’s a reprise of my Winter tale from SIX years ago…  wow, that’s a long time. Almost as long as this Winter has been.

I like this oldie especially because in it I reminisce about meeting my husband… and it also has one of my all-time favorite drawings (and yes, I was a brunette back then).




I hate the expression, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”

Learning has nothing to do with age.  Why just this year, I have figured out how to write and manage a blog, how to install and use a scanner, how to work my new iPhone –  I’ve even downloaded two (count ’em: 2!) apps.

I drove my husband’s truck with the plow attached. (I am not claiming to have parked it.)

And I learned how to make pretzels.

(I may need a bit more practice on the shape.)

But even though I believe you can learn anything at any age, I will admit that there are some things that are better learned when you’re young.

Like skiing.

I learned to cross-country ski at age 32, and I did pretty well. Of course, cross-country skiing is sort of like how you skated across the kitchen floor in your stocking feet when you were eight. And there’s nothing to be afraid of. If I come across a steep descent, I just snap my boots out of my skis and walk around it.

But at age 37, I met a man who ‘ski’ skied. Like downhill. Downhill skiing isn’t really downhill, it’s downmountain.

But I was game. (Actually, I was in love, and therefore insane.)

So I went to a medium-sized local mountain with this man and his son. I persuaded Boyfriend not to watch me, and so he happily went to the black diamond hill with his eleven-year-old. I rented boots, skis, and poles, and inched my way to the instruction slope.

‘Slope’ was an exaggeration. The grade was about the same as the floor of my shower, so that the water runs into the drain. But I was cool gliding down the gentle path with the rest of my class. The rest of my class were toddlers.

“Don’t feel bad,” said the teacher. “Toddlers have a very low center of gravity. You are much more tippy, so it’s harder for you.”

I was pleased by this, since I thought by ‘tippy’, he might mean ‘stacked’, and that made me like my new ski jacket quite a bit.

After about half an hour of easy practice, I graduated. I went to the bunny hill. I had to get on the little ski-lift and take a short ride. Getting off was very brave. and then I made slow, wide (almost horizontal) zig-zags down the hill.

My boyfriend showed up and I did it again with him. I was very pleased with myself. And I had that little tag on my jacket that told the world I was a skier. It was exhilarating.

We broke up the next week.

The following year I met the man who became my husband.

And unbelievably, he was another skier!  But okay, I could tell him that I skied ‘a little’.

More unbelievably, he seemed to be in love with me. He planned a ski vacation, and when I told him I would rent equipment, his smitten little self took me to the local ski shop and bought me skis, boots, poles, goggles, and an even cuter ski jacket with matching pants, mittens and headband. I was a doll.

So we go to a REAL mountain in Vermont. I donned my new ensemble and we headed for a very big ski lift and a very tall mountain. Only it was called The Bunny Hill. “This can’t be the bunny hill,” I told my sweetheart.

And I got to the top and fell off the ski lift. “I’m okay,” I said cheerfully.

And we started down. DOWN.

My boots hurt, I couldn’t control my direction, and I was unable to make those big sideways swaths I had learned the previous year.  I went straight downhill like a racer, only with my poles flailing like cockeyed windmills.

For about thirty feet. I managed to stop by using my face as a brake.

After I got my head out of the snow, I sat down and cried a little bit. My sweetie tried to coax me back on my feet, and I cried harder.

“Can’t I take my skis off and walk down?” I asked.

Eventually we took it little by little, and he guided me slowly down the mountain. I skied all the way down in snowplow position. Which is exhausting.

And I didn’t ski again. And he married me anyway.

But I learned to ski as an adult. So don’t be telling me you can’t teach an old dog new tricks!

P.S. – I’m no coward. Why just this morning I brushed my teeth with that lethal weapon called the Spinbrush.


  1. I skied a little more than you but not much. Just enough to buy a really cute ski outfit that I had not place to wear!


    • I wore the jacket a few times – but not on the ski slope!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Laughing out loud here. I learned x-country when I was about 28. Had fun, did it because a guy I was dating loved it. I learned to enjoy it enough to do it on my own too. Never learned down hill but always thought I would “some day.” Well. I’ll be 62 in April and I think that some day may have passed when I wasn’t looking. And I’m married to a non-skier now so the odds are even smaller that I’ll ever find myself at the top of a mountain with boards strapped on my feet. Though I’d like to ride the ski lift. I think. Maybe in summer.

    PS: It’s snowing here in Michigan. Again. I hope to head to Alabama next week if I can find two consecutive days with no storms to drive down there.


    • I am definitely a summer girl. But I was born here in Connecticut, and I’m still here almost 67 years later.


  3. I tried to learn both French and skiing at 40 when we moved to Switzerland. I don’t recommend either, although I got fewer bodily injuries with French. The humiliation was pretty evenly divided.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ha! Yes I can see a high humiliation quotient for both activities.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I have never been able to teach any dog old or young a trick, and yes I know the post isn’t about teaching dogs tricks but had to throw that in there. Skiing is not something I have tried and having shit balance I do not want to try it also Leo just told me that Superman can’t ski how he knows that I do not know but he says he just knows, Bob the dog can ski how a somewhat stuffed dog can ski I do not know but Leo says that Bob the dog can ski……….


    • I would believe Leo. Bob the dog can ski.


  5. Barbara

    I’m ashamed of how long I’ve been reading your blog without ever telling you how much I love it and how talented you are with your words and your art And beautiful too. How is this fair?


    • Oh, thank you so much. You’ve made my day… maybe my year! I love to write and draw. As far as ‘beautiful’ goes, I wouldn’t go that far, but finally, somehow, when I got to my sixties, I seemed to have become at peace with my looks – and perhaps that’s all it takes. I like myself and the way I look, and it shows. (That… and LOTS of self-indulgence! I spoil myself enormously.)


  6. Love the drawing again and agree with your winter concept (I live in South Florida) I foolishly tried to learn to ski on the Matterhorn (yes!) terrifying – the endless crevasses don’t have safety fences. My first and last ski adventure.


    • Well.I guess when you try something, you go all the way! The Matterhorn!?!


  7. Haha! This sounds way to familiar! I skied for the first time when I was 35. I took the “class” with my then 5 and 6 year old kids, and was with two other children. I didn’t care because I wanted to ski with my kids. My take away- don’t start something new, at 35, with a nationally ranked gymnast and a competitive rock climber- you will look stupid and uncoordinated no matter what!!


    • At least your motivation was good – to be with your kids. My motivation was to impress my boyfriend – which luckily with the guy who became my husband, didn’t seem to matter.

      Liked by 1 person

      • True, I impressed NO ONE!


  8. Tim

    I always enjoy your blog and this one reminds me of my first – and only – time skiing.


    • Thanks Tim. And thank God we are too old for that now!


  9. braver than I, skiing is out of the question, but I do like learning other new things!


    • I still will not get on a motorcycle.

      Liked by 1 person

      • oh, I use to do that, not drive it, but ride on the back. I would still if it wasn’t for a bummed hip! Fun!


  10. I put skis on once in my friend’s living room. I fell down. Never tried again. Those pretzels have my mouth watering!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: