Thursday, October 07, 2004

Bad Back! No Hike For You 

One crisp autumnal day a hundred years ago our evangelical Taft-esque founder D. L. Moody strode into the dining hall in the middle of breakfast and announced "It's a beautiful day, too nice for classes. Let's take a hike!" And, so the story goes, they did. In their school clothes. And it was good, I suppose. Even if the hiking boot still hadn't been invented.

Over the years, Mountain day has become an institution, one of many within our beloved macrocosm. Sure, things have changed -- the sheer volume of students now demands a separate hike for each class where once the entirety of the student body followed that single and boldly bearded man whereev'r he did goest, for example, and the night-before dance would only have appeared in a school which could not in good conscience make plans with less than a day's full notice.

But the spirit of the hike remains, as much as it can in these days of girth and grading. Though faculty are given a set of possibles, the actual hike date is always kept a secret until the afternoon previous. Classes are cancelled, and the climb is a team effort, with absences given and frowns served upon those who choose not to join the trail gathering as the fog rolls off the hills, exposing the climb-to-be.

I used to love Mountain Day. I've proudly climbed with the 9th graders, manning checkpoints and guarding against the everpresent wild bee, for years. My first year I got lost with a few other faculty; my third I played sweeper, keepiong pace with a bad-ankled student, coming out of the wilderness to find that the traditional chili lunch had already been put away. The year Willow was first born and Darcie was a full-time employee, required to serve the hike with the rest of us, we handed out apples and granola provisons at the trail's entrance; that year I missed the walk itself terribly, though I enjoyed the time with my newly enlarged family more.

But this year, back still out, side reeking with pain from yesterday's thearapy diagnostic session (another round of does it hurt when you bend like this? how about like this?), I had to trade the hike away for another role, one highly coveted by the faculty: a night of student center chaperonage while the dance raged in the gym down the hill, and my service was over before the day itself had even begun.

Today I slept through Mountain Day, and spent the late morning instead with the girls at home.

To my immense disappointment, I hardly missed it.

Maybe it's the Vicodin speaking, but I think my lack of sadness at having missed the glorious hike and all that it entails is less a signifier of a lost love of hiking, or of crisp fall mornings, and more a single indicator of the larger truth: that I am losing my sense of place here at NMH, preparing for a long overdue move-along; protecting the communal need from the future perfect, the undiscovered job-to-be, the place where we need to go, and soon. Time for those rec letters to begin pouring in, the contacts to be made, the soul-searching to begin anew. I've said it often and recently, but if you're looking for a jack-of-all-social-sciences, ane ducator with an eye for media and pop culture, a lover of live and of learning in all its forms, give me a buzz, won't you? Because I'm ready to go, and getting moreso every day.

posted by boyhowdy | 7:36 PM |

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