I wish I could say I am just nibbling almonds and leafy greens, have quit sugar and dialed back on dairy, but the truth? It’s different. In the last week there was a road stop at Five Guys and a cheeseburger. And fries. And a carbonated beverage that was not kombucha. When I scroll back further, I do recall eating most of a pot of tapioca pudding and I have faltered around potato chips. Seriously faltered. Perfect in my diet? Far from it.
Watching the teams on campus this fall, talking to coaches, hearing the bell ring on Maxwell Savage after victories are all reminders of all the contests that are happening most days during the week. It’s not just Wednesdays and Saturdays anymore. Mondays and Fridays are roped into schedules, and buses are always pulling into and leaving campus. Uniforms are handed out, cleats are knocked clean before entering buildings, the training room ice bags are everywhere.
Climate change. It’s hard to miss these days. Greta Thunberg, the young climate activist who sailed to New York to speak at the UN Climate Action Summit has been in front of Congress and has been interviewed countless times (see Trevor Noah interview below). Reports of Imelda’s drenching rains in Texas (over 40 inches in some places) have suggested that it has been additionally water stoked by a warmer atmosphere and we may see more of these tropical depressions. Dorian’s cataclysmic stalling over the Bahamas as a Category 5 hurricane is still fresh in many minds.
Last Sunday I parked the truck on the hairpin on the Kancamagus, hauled my pack out of the back, and started down the trail to meet Brooks Bicknell. He was coming out of the woods to tend to Ocean Classroom business; I was headed in to pick up the group for the second leg of the trip. Wisps of clouds began to knit together when I handed the truck keys to Brooks. I had a sense of what the next two days would bring. Rain.
I’ve called these places soul corners in the past, the pockets where energy coalesces in a particular way to reveal something of a community’s heartbeat, its delight, its potential. They are not often manicured spaces, prim and dolled up. They have an aura of work surrounding them, of student effort expended and adults guiding. Slocumb is one of those spaces. The tech lab, the woodshop, the machine shop, the forge - all soul spaces. So, too, is the Norris Theater with its paneling, the wooden beams that hold up the grid, the scene shop. It’s one of those spaces that invites lingering. It’s calming and energizing. It’s a place of music, of singing, of acting and set magic, of students making birthday announcements and game recaps. It’s a place of laughter and sometimes somber talks. It’s one of those places that makes Proctor…well, Proctor.
This one starts with baseball. Again, baseball. I missed the end innings of the Red Sox as they eventually won Wednesday night against the Baltimore Orioles 2-1, but I caught the replays Thursday morning. I saw the catch Jackie Bradley Jr. made, robbing Trey Mancini of a homerun in the bottom of the 11th by scaling a wall and reaching over into the bullpen to make a spectacular backhanded catch.
It happens all the time. I am walking from my house to the office, maybe one of the shortest commutes in New England, and in the brief stroll from house to Maxwell Savage, inevitably there are scraps of litter, refuse tossed up on asphalt shore lines from the window of a passing car. The rolling, casual wave of a hand (that I never see) leaves behind beer cans, cigarette stubs, water bottles, candy wrappers, plastic bags. The colored bits of trash sprout like a 21st century algae bloom amidst Route 11’s shoulder grit. Wasn’t there yesterday, but there today.
Last evening I watched the late innings of a baseball game against St. Paul’s School. It was a tight one, the score see-sawing back and forth. We’re up, they’re up, then we’re catching up. The sun cut shadow from trees to the west, the outfield was a deep green, the chatter of the benches (and some rowdy fans from Carr House) peppered the evening. I could lean against the white fence near the right field foul pole, my favorite spot on a perfect evening. I could lean against that fence on evenings like that - baseball, no bugs, no wind, warm enough for just a light fleece - for hours.