It’s a bell sitting on the edge of my desk, an old sleigh bell dug up on Proctor property by Maintenance Team members Dana Newton and Dave Elwell, two dirt fishermen as they like to call themselves. It was found across from Ives house in the vicinity of an old majestic oak that rises up forty, fifty feet. Maybe at some point in a winter long past, a sleigh crossed snowy ground and the bell jostled loose, fell to the snow to melt quietly deeper through the winter cover, disappearing for good during mud season. No matter, the dirt fishermen found it. And now it sits on the edge of my desk, still with its jingle, a reminder to look for the small marvelous and the spirit of the season. Here’s a little of what I have found this week:
Each year we open our house on a Sunday in December for students, faculty and staff families. There is a visit by the mysterious man with the long white hair and flowing beard, and this year his twinkling eyes were remarkably reminiscent of Nate Mazur’s from the kitchen. Santa hands out gifts to the younger children, shares his wisdom from the north, and there is singing, always singing. The upright in the living room comes to life with Bill or Rob rolling through song after song. The most reliable attendees, the boys' hockey team, arrived early this year and sang with gusto. Pitch perfect? Not exactly, but certainly perfect in creating the pitch of holiday cheer that carried through the afternoon to create the first small marvelous of the week.
Sometimes in a serendipitous turn it arrives the way it has this year, first from the snow guns over at the ski area, then supplemented by the storms passing through the Northeast. It starts with a single flake, builds into a flurry, ripples across trails and slowly drifts. The snow guns create mini blizzards. Garry George fires up the groomer, the big cat’s rumblings purr throughout campus, a comforting diesel throttle and a reminder that we’re back in winter, we are a school of the north, and we thrive in the cold. He pushes mounds flat, sculpts trails in the early morning darkness or the late night, lights flashing through sugar maples, beech, and hemlocks. On Tuesday the first runs of the year were arced out by Ski Patrol and Varsity skiers – the second small marvelous.
The holiday dinner closes the dining commons Tuesday afternoon while helpers place decorations, spread tablecloths, and sprinkle candy canes. The kitchen bustles. Ty and Caleb pull out roasts, Laura bakes what I call “problematic” desserts, and the building fills with the collective aromas of delicious. When the doors open, the community gathers for one of our most formal meals of the year and the murmurs of appreciation become open expressions of gratitude for the kitchen magicians. There are bags of candy from the candy table, holiday music, and a definite sense of joy and lightness. In the Dining Commons this week - the third small marvelous.
May your time together over the holidays be filled with the moments that kindle the joy of the season, moments of kindness and generosity, and many moments of the small marvelous.
Mike Henriques P'11, P'15
Proctor Academy Head of School