An Old Dog Learning a New Trick

            I have mentioned many times my love of the snow and cold.  And that love is genuine.  Some of my earliest memories include being out with my dad while he worked outside in the wintertime.  I can remember feeling the cold of winter creeping in past my gloves and boots to nip at my fingers and toes.  It wasn’t long before I learned that the best way to stay warm was to get busy and go to work.  (Of course the worse thing to do was to huddle down and shiver.)  Back then, I really liked being outside even though I was cold, more than I liked to be inside the house where it was warm.  So after the work was finished, often even at night, my playtime was out in the cold. 

            One year we were hit with an especially hard winter.  To me it was a really fun winter.  The snows just kept coming that year, and the winds kept blowing.  It wasn’t long before our half mile long lane from the main road was drifted in deeper than I had ever seen it before (or since).  That road was snowed in for weeks.  Along with the snow and blow, came the Artic air.  The sustained -40 Fahrenheit gave the drifted snow such a hard crust that we soon could drive our cars and trucks up over the drifts.  Our station wagon parked on a snow drift in front of our house.  The car was as high as the eves of the house. 

Finally, the snowplow came to open our road once again.  It took that massive plow many hours of backing up and ramming that crusted snow to plow down our half mile of road.  Left in its wake were the largest snow boulders I have ever seen.  Many of them were as large as our cars and trucks.  Some were even larger.  I could climb up on this ice age snow bank and look down at the cars and trucks as they passed on the newly opened road.  I remember thinking that I shouldn’t touch the power lines running along the road, which were buried so deep in the snow bank that I could have touched them easily.  I spent the rest of this winter’s playtime exploring the many ice caves created along the roadside snow bank.        

            During this time, I always wished I had skis to get around on.  The snow was so crusted that I could walk on it anywhere as if I were walking on the solid ground, but the idea of playing around on skis was intriguing.  I watched a friend once waxing his wooden skis and wished that I had a pair of skis to use.  I knew back then that skiing was a rich man’s sport.  So with all my love of playing out in the snow in the wintertime, until last Saturday I had never actually gotten on a pair of snow skis.

            Thotman and I had been talking about my “Never done list”.  In referring to my statement that I had never kissed anyone except my Beautiful Wife, never smoked or drank, never gambled and never gone snow skiing, He said that he didn’t think he should lead me into immorality, or make a drunk out of me.  And that I had actually been gambling my whole life anyway… so the only thing left for him to offer, was to take me skiing. 

            The thought was very intriguing to me.  At this stage of my life there were two reasons why I would just put it on my “Never done it” list without giving any thought to actually doing it.  First, I am now just an old dog.  I don’t know the first thing about the equipment, where to go, or what to do once I got there.  And then secondly, I still knew that it was a rich man’s sport, and I’m not rich. 

            Well, to shorten my story, let’s just skip to last Saturday.  I found myself up at a mountain ski resort with Thotman.  I learned that day that if the name Thotman had been taken, he could have assumed the name Skiman just as well.  I’ve read his blog “A Dance With The Mountain” and as good as he is with words, he still doesn’t fully convey his passion for skiing. 

            I loved every minute of that afternoon.  Thotman is a great ski instructor, and my clumsiness on skis didn’t seem to discourage him a bit.  I was hoping  that before the day was through, I would be able to ski down the gradual slope next to the rope tow and learn enough to stop myself using the snowplow (instead of the headplow) technique he was teaching me.  But before I knew it, we were on the lift headed up the mountain.  That ride up the mountain alone was a thrill.  As a spectator down on the ground those lifts don’t seem to be going that fast.  I don’t want to contradict Thotman too much, so I won’t detail how awkward and clumsy I was going down.  So let’s just say, I sure made the ski patrol nervous.  But by the time I got to the bottom, I was wishing we had more day left, and I was just a little bit more proficient on those skis.  Yes, I had put skiing in the right category on my spaces list.  It is an addiction just like the smoking, drinking and gambling.  Now I’m wondering when I can get my next fix. 

7 thoughts on “An Old Dog Learning a New Trick”

  1. I’m happy you finally get to do things you have wanted to do in life.  Sure makes things in life better when you get to have some fun too.  Many happy skiing trips for you in the future.  Vallerie

  2. Whilst reading both yours and Thotman’s piece, and as an x manager, I was trying to remember whether I had made more hospital visits to recovering ski ing or jogging members of staff !!

  3. lol…laird..skiing back in YOUR day when they NAILED your feet to the skis was MUCH more dangerous…these days the bindings release… Ron you felt clumsey, but trust me that feeling will go away in a couple more trips skiing…I went to a storage unit and discovered nearly 50 pair of boots….and lots of skis…it seems that we need to bring A B C and Cory on the next trip… I hear that Alta has three feet of new powder right where we were….I think this afternoon you know where I will be….(putting my gear and chains in the RED ski van? maybe!…we’ll see….if not Blue it is…)  I found some never out of the box boots that might be just the ticket for your girls…) I hear night skiing begins at snowbird for beginners will be the perfect place for their first time skiing. if you can get away on a friday night about 3 pm we will be there at 6 (even after setting the boots and bindings)…..and a great place for you to practice…oh and the only thing about it being a rich mans sport…is when your married…if your wife doesnt go…you hafta  finance her shopping while you are skiing…that can be …ehhhemmm…a little spendy…
    so far the cost of all of your skiinig …gear, skis, lift passes and fuel and  to get there and tiny snack has totaled nearly 5 bucks… but I am glad to know I’m rich…come to think of it…as "a wonderful life" teaches us…he who has friends is truly rich… so maybe it is a rich mans sport…

  4. The first (and last) time I went skiing was with the school district.  Mike was one of the instructors and thought it would be no big deal to teach me too.  I was perfectly happy on the tow rope when he insisted I go up on the lift.  He assured me they would slow the lift down so I could get off my first time, but it didn’t exactly happen that way.  Let’s just say I did a nice face plant getting off and it didn’t get much better on the trip down the hill.  Mike was skiing in front of me, going down the hill backwards.  I was not impressed.  I just wanted to get off the long fiberglass runners of death that were strapped to my feet.  I think I totally embarrassed Mike when I skooched down the last 100 yards on my behind in front of all his students.  Sounds like you had more fun than that.  Way to go!

  5. Fantastic….Thotman is a good man and I am sure he will  be a great friend.  Go as often as you can.  I used to ski but alas I now live in a tropical rainforest….well almost…Houston

    Bully for you, Ron!!!
    As a non-skier, and a non-skater I see little use for snow, apart for creating a winter wonderland for Christmastime. I am a pathetic excuse for an Iowan, but that’s just me. Perhaps I may learn to ski, but right now my biggest winter passtime is keeping warm!
    Loved your memories of your time with your dad…
    Peace and love, always…

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