Last games, last projects, last rehearsals, and last snow…. the year winds down. Watching the ski area to see when the last snow will fade from the middle trail is like watching the final pinches of sand running through an hourglass. Cupped by a dip in the middle trail this white patch has been diminishing slowly in May, and Tuesday it finally disappeared. One last time I visited winter, touching its cold while across the valley the flanks of Ragged flashed summer green. The season turns over, the overlap of beginnings and endings similar to a school transitioning from one year to the next.
Dave Pilla was talking about this in a report to the board of trustees last weekend when he and two of his students, Eliza Orne and Kevin Barry, talked about the stewardship of Proctor’s lands. The concept of thinking seven generations into the future (about 140 years) is attributed the Iroquois laws. It’s about the ripple of today’s decisions, about caring for more than a moment. If we cut this stand of white pine, what’s the impact? If we plant chestnut trees at Elbow, how does the next generation benefit? Or the generation after that? This concept may not have the currency it should in today’s ‘now’ world, but I had the chance this week to spend Wednesday with three individuals, who over a significant portion of the school’s history, helped set the course of Proctor, shaped its arc, and ensured that actions of the past would ripple into the future in positive ways. These are seven-generation thinkers.
This past week Scott King shared a recording of the vocal ensemble singing a medley of tunes, and the recording reminded me of two things: first, the range of talent in our community is impressive; secondly, that wonder is a local commodity sometimes inspired by small moments that can have disproportionate impact. An eight-minute recording can impact a day, a week, sometimes a month. It lingers. Echoes.
One of my favorite books, The Man Who Planted Trees, is a fictional account of shepherd who lives in a ravaged and wild landscape in a simple hut with his dog and the acorns that he sorts, soaks, and carries with him to plant each day as he tends his flock. A young man who is hiking to escape the tangled destruction of an overly industrialized world encounters the shepherd. The hiker befriends the shepherd and visits him over decades, witnessing the growth of a forest, sees a water table restored, and notices an abundance of species returning to the hills. He marvels and is inspired by the work of a single planter of trees.
The best ones are those that you move in and out of seamlessly, that offer delight, bring laughter, and deepen an understanding of the world. They are the friendships forged over years, spanning decades. Sometimes, in rare instances, a friendship will touch a community, its impact ringing out the way a bell rings out, looping its peels in ever widening circles. That’s the kind of friendship Proctor has with John Around Him, who has been on campus this week. He has brought the experience of his travels in the world and the wisdom of the Lakota people to Proctor’s campus, and we have delighted in his return as one delights in a visit of the closest of friends.
For many, the game is too slow. Pitchers amble around the mound, rub the ball, peer around the bases, shake off signs … and drive many sports fans to reach for the remote and another channel. In any given game, 90% of the players on either team might be idle and have nothing to do except find the Gatorade cooler or a packet of sunflower seeds. Outfielders can stand for inning after inning and never see a ball in their zip code. At its most blistering, baseball keeps pace with golf. Football, soccer, and lacrosse – those games move at broadband speeds compared to baseball’s dial-up pace.
And yet, maybe baseball is the game we need more than ever.
The month plays with us, teases us, and teaches us. On Thursday the outfield of the baseball field poked through the snow, brown patches with just a barest hint of green. It was reasonable to contemplate leaning against the white Carr Field fence to listen to the pop of the ball in gloves and the crack of the bat. A week of sun could have gotten us there, maybe ten days. But this morning there is a winter storm warning posted with snow tallies predicted to range from 12 to 20 inches. A quick scan of the Weather Channel calendar reveals more snow possible next week. The infield, the mound, and the outfield will be under snow for longer than expected. Lesson #1: Patience.
Last Sunday afternoon I walked through the Norris Family Theater to the sound of power drills and pieces of the set for The Foreigner thumping to the ground. The living room, the fireplace, the windows, and the doors – everything was gone. Where the night before there had been the beckoning magic of Cooper and Amanda conjuring a separate reality, now screws clattered to the floor and lumber was being stacked. Jacob pushed through with a broom, a visual cue to the lessons of deconstruction. Moment passes to moment, season to season, term gives way to term.