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.
Every year at Proctor is wholly new, yet remarkably familiar. The faces of students change over time, both as they mature and as the natural turnover of the student body every four years introduces new, eager minds ready to embark on their Proctor experience. While Proctor is not a school steeped in tradition, there are some rituals that occur each year at the same time, including the annual ninth grade hike to the Proctor Cabin.
My first reaction after reading a NY Times (Oct 10) editorial on climate regulation rollback was to think about Proctor’s land, the care we take in ensuring a productive woodlot that not only produces timber harvests and creates healthy species habitat, but is also managed for future generations. Then I thought - briefly - about ranting for the environment and against all of the regulatory rollbacks on clean air. I thought about the fires in California, the warming oceans that have created a record tying hurricane season, and all of the inconvenient truths we are now living. In the end, I settled for the swinging bridge.
The loud mechanical whirring of the splitter starting up is a nuisance to some but music to others, it is the tell-tale symphony of spring. The clunk of the log being put on the splitter, the hydraulics powering up, the first crack of wood against the wedge and then comes the complete split and the sputtering of the cylinder. Finally, the dropping of the log in the metal truck bed, which adds a hint of percussion to the melody.
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.
We shared the video below on social media yesterday and it took off like wildfire getting thousands of views from our current parents, faculty/staff, and alumni. The message in the video is simple: every journey starts from what is familiar and along the way evolves into the brand new as you are challenged, supported, and guided by opportunities and the people that enter your life.
When Derek Beard ‘90 arrived on Proctor’s campus as a sophomore in the fall of 1987 he already had an affection for the outdoors. Growing up on a large plot of land in Connecticut, Derek loved to spend time exploring outside and felt fortunate to have parents who recognized and encournaged his love of nature. His forestry class with Dave Pilla during his senior year simply solidified that passion. On Wednesday morning, Derek returned to Proctor's campus to share his professional work as a forester for the state of Massachusetts with another generation of budding Proctor foresters.
The Proctor community is the best. Period. We know we may possess a bit of bias, but time and time again we are reminded of the strength of this community as we attempt to navigate the messy, painful reality of life. Tuesday afternoon was another powerful reminder of why we choose to live, work, and learn within the Proctor family.