It may have been the last jog through the woods before snow, a slow amble up from behind the tennis courts on Tuesday afternoon, the woods offering quiet solace in this transitional time between seasons. Up over wooden slab bridges, past the cut off for Wilson’s Wonder, up to Mud Pond and the Adirondack shelter. The dog rustled through the fire pit looking for bits of what? Marshmallow? Graham crackers? Scraps of discarded oatmeal from Wilderness Orientation? In the shelter, wood duck houses that students built were stacked, waiting to be set up later in winter.
It is good to remember that the lightness of being is nearby, ready to balance out challenge. Sometimes you catch it in the glimmers of sun sheeting across a field and a mood shifts. Or a day. Of course you have to be open to the possibility, and sometimes you have to actively look for the lightness of being. Sometimes the moment simply seems to fall in your lap. Fortunately, at Proctor, there seems to be a high density probability of encountering one of these uplifting interludes.
On a trip to Georgia and Alabama this week, Director of Development Keith Barrett '80 and I took a dogleg route from Atlanta to Birmingham, though the city of Montgomery, Alabama. We stopped to visit Danny Loehr ‘09, who currently works for the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) founded by Bryan Stevenson. EJI seeks to “end mass incarceration and excessive punishment, challenge inhumane and violent prison conditions, and confront the history of racial inequality and injustice in America.”
Walking down Ward Lane late yesterday afternoon, the cold wind ripping down from Ragged with the clouds scattering bits of rain and snow, I approached the baseball field. Green tarps, water pooling on them, had been pulled over the mound and home plate, the red dirt of the base paths had been raked smooth by Garry George, the dugout benches had long been carted away to other fields. The single ball I found, a leftover seed from the past season, won’t spin out of a hand until next spring. I took it all in and thought about the Nor’easter predicted for this weekend that could bring snow to the mountains and bury the field. Proctor’s baseball season barely ripples through the community consciousness, but thankfully the game is still being played on the national stage.
We tend to look up, eyes drawn to the skyline, the geometry of rooflines, the arc of hills against the horizon, the splash of stars across the night sky. The beauty, the majesty, it’s up ahead. We coach our players to keep their head up, to work to see the whole of the playing field, to anticipate. Maybe in golf or baseball you keep your head down, but that’s only temporary. Your eyes immediately rise after you hit the ball: how far will it travel? Sand trap or fairway? Base hit or triple? Maybe this proclivity to always look up is instinctual, an ingrained alertness to see what’s coming, to prepare and protect.
I visited six freshman seminar classes in Shirley Hall this week, enjoying the chance to get a read on who will help us build and sustain the Proctor community over the next four years. The intent of this one term program is to help ground these incoming students, answer questions for them, and help them center down for the next four years.
Corby Leith '92 and I were talking Thursday morning in Slocumb, reviewing some of the charcoal work of this fall’s art students, some of the framed work in racks that had been in a summer show, and then he checked his schedule and realized he was supposed to be in the forge teaching. We scooted out through the ceramics studio and headed around to the backside of the Shepard Boat House to the shuttered door of the forge. I thought I would tag along to see how the class unfolded.
When Lindsey Allenby gathered the senior class after assembly on Monday for their class photo, I looked over. There was a lot laugher, some kidding around, and the mood was upbeat and positive. Lindsey snapped pictures, the group scattered, and it was only later, reflecting on the class, that I thought about the background hum of stress coursing through the group. When the college process peaks in the fall of senior year, the pressures can mount to unreasonable and unhealthy levels.