Valuing a Sense of Place: The Proctor Woodlands

Posted by Scott Allenby


Proctor's 2,500 acres wood lot is perhaps our greatest physical asset. It provides a sense of place valued by faculty, staff, students, and especially our canine friends! Each of us appreciates this land differently. Some of us work in it while others harvest it. Some hike it, others run it. Our children explore it. Frances O'Gorman chose to journal about it. 

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Spending three nights a week at Mud Pond during Senior Project, Frances journaled nightly as she rocked in her Crazy Creek and enjoyed the simplicity of life in Proctor's woodlands. Her reflections helped center her as she completed THIS AMAZING ART INSTALLATION in Slobumb Hall.

During her salutatory address at graduation, she shared one of her journal entries. Read her writing below and watch the final video clip for a true appreciation of just how beautiful her words articulate all of our appreciation for this little slice of heaven we call home!

Proctor Academy Woodlands

Mud Pond in Early May - Frances O'Gorman '15 

There is no sound comparable to spring peepers. No musical quality quite like it. It’s both a hum and a chirp endlessly bound together. It’s spring now - hot, humidity becoming more common, black flies just starting to eat us alive for the first time this year. My tea water boils on top of my still shiny dragonfly stove. Pine above, hay below. The smell of tiger balm floating off my legs, through my long john’s and into the freshness of pre-sunset air. Legs crossed in a crazy creek. Pond stretched out in front of me, aweingly still. Lily pads, floating. How do they do that? Fire ring lonely, no fires this spring. The sign reads “fire danger high” these days. When is the fire danger low? When is there ever a chance of not getting hurt?

Proctor Academy woodlands

Birdsong everywhere, if only I knew who they were. But then again the name doesn’t matter, and their songs are beautiful, their presence timeless. Aves. Aveces. Alone. Alone to write, to sing, to dream, to smile, to refill on that pure joy, that lonely joy. Oh introverts, how sacred are we! I should write more. I should read more. I should try to open my heart more. I should. I should. I should. But I am me, and I am happy just being free and wandering aimlessly. Who invented the idea of happiness anyway? When did emotions first come into play? 

Proctor Academy Woodlands

Tea made. Tea quote: love is an infinite victory. What is infinite? What is victory? Am I? Are you? Are stones? Are trees? Are flowers or bees? Victory is never infinite; for there is always change. Good, bad. Whoever, wherever, whatever. And the black flies swarm and my crazy creek creaks with me. One, two, tree. My first crazy creek floated away from me, the only thing lost in a three hour tragedy. Cars and motorcycles, their sounds flash by.  

Proctor Academy Woodlands

Oh, the din of peepers, though you are strong you still do not cover the damage done. For we are no longer one on this earth. We are fractured and torn, distraught and mislead, misinformed and misread. We have left this earth for dead. And hope? Where are you now? Have you jumped off the page at the very sound of anger and misfortune. Well, believe it or not my friends, anger brings hope too and in many ways will guide you. For anger isn’t fists or guns, but an urge for solution and completion. Anger is a cue for work, for action and for thought too. And from those comes one thing - hope for something new, a change, a shift in paradigm. Do you feel that too?

Learn More About Woodland Management at Proctor


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