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.
The warmth of the last couple of days, the cascade of snow melt off roofs, the pooling of puddles, the coils of mud from boots and tires speak to the change. Jackets are left behind; t-shirts are worn at the ski hill. It feels like a warm April stretch, not the third week in February. This weather change has resulted in the collection tank being muscled out of the barn and into the bed of the woods truck on Thursday. It has pushed Dave Pilla to start hooking up the collecting lines, hanging buckets, tapping trees. The sugar season is here.
Squeaking out of Boston Sunday night on a flight to Lisbon just before the biggest storm of the winter rolled across the Northeast, this was my week to visit Proctor's off-campus programs in Spain and France. I caught up with Dave and Jen and the European Art Classroom students in Madrid to wander Centro De Arte Reina Sofia, the Museo Sorolla, The Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, and the Museo del Prado to stand in front of works that ranged from Picasso's "Guernica" to Sollera's "The Horse Bath" to the black paintings of Goya.
Over the last week we have been relatively busy processing discipline infractions: a dismissal, an appeal of another dismissal, and other blips on the discipline front that kept Drew Donaldson busy. I addressed the school in last Friday’s assembly prior to the weekend and spoke to the needs of the community, the need to collectively step up. Ours is not simply a community of rules, overly prescriptive, and we know relationships create the fabric of community and give it texture. So what does this last week say about Proctor in February?