When T.S. Elliott referred to April as the “cruelest month” in the first line of his poem The Waste Land, I am not sure he really had a major problem with the first month of spring. April, however, has felt a little cruel in New England this year as we deal with continued snowfall and gray days. Our athletes have been good sports as they deal with ice on the pond and snow on the fields. They are ready for green grass, blue skies, and for some “breeding lilacs out of the dead land” as Elliot put it so solemnly.
Two weeks ago I spoke to the students about my own personal goal to find something to like about April. My mother was someone who always saw beauty in the little details of life and I wanted to follow her example and use April as a chance to search beyond the gloomy weather to see a bit of elegance in the details of our campus. Walking along a stonewall in the woods on the north side of campus I came upon a seasonal stream that was carrying newly melted snow on its journey to the Contoocook River below. I set up a camera and recorded a few minutes of the river in action so that I could play the video for our students in Morning Meeting.
I asked the students to relax and look at the details of the recording (see video below) as I read a long passage from one of my favorite books, Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. Dillard spent a year exploring and writing about her property in rural Virginia and found joy and surprise in the little moments in nature that we often overlook. I challenged the students and myself to look beyond the doom and gloom to find the surprises in the world surrounding us. Our 400 acre campus is a true gift, filled with many wonders to observe and enjoy. I encourage you to watch this video on your full screen, relax and appreciate the details you see in it.
From Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
Live water heals memories. I look up the creek and here it comes, the future, being borne aloft as on a winding succession of laden trays. You may wake and look form the window and breathe the real air, and say, with satisfaction or with longing, “This is it.” But if you look up the creek, if you look up the creek in any weather, your spirit fills, and you are saying, with an exulting rise of the lungs, “Here it comes!”