Peregrinations

SMUS-Views-Bob

I am writing this from Seattle, where we had our alumni reception last night. It was hosted by Chris Collins, alumnus of the class of 1963. We have a very supportive and interested group of Seattle alumni, and the crowd last night had representatives of classes from 1951 to 1997. Usually when we come down to Seattle I end up playing squash with one of our alumni, Bob Kelly from the class of 1964, so today I had my usual game, and now we are in the float plane terminal waiting for our flight to go back to Victoria.

 

Tonight we are going to see The Kind of Elfland’s Daughter, the Middle School musical. We are looking forward to it quite eagerly. Almost the entire Middle School – students, staff, and quite a few parents – are involved in mounting this production. It is a consuming effort, which strains, but doesn’t break, everyone’s capacity to function and even thrive. I have heard already that it is a wonderful show, so our anticipation is running high.

 

It is a beautiful day for a flight. Clear and quite cold, with only a light wind from the east, so we won’t be bounced around much. Earlier this week, I was on another flight, to Toronto, where I attended a Board meeting of CESI (Canadian Educational Standards Institute), whose Board I joined in January. On that particular flight I wrote an article for the upcoming issue of School Ties, which will be out in April, and I hope any reader will indulge me if I include a paragraph from that article, since travel and flights seems to be a bit of a theme here. Here it is:

 

Sitting on an airplane, one sometimes can’t avoid an extroverted conversationalist, a garrulous friend-maker. I met such a person on a flight this week, while I was re-reading Turgenev’s A Sportsman’s Notebook. My new-found friend hadn’t heard of Turgenev. When I told him the book was a description – true, no less – of the author’s wanderings from district to district in rural Russia with his dog and his rifle, shooting fowl of different types, my new friend wondered why I would be reading – let alone re-reading – such a book. His poor opinion deepened when I told him how for the most part the author sketched encounters with people who barely scraped together a living, peasants and serfs, rather than the landowners and nobility who “owned” them. What was the point of escaping like this to the middle of the 1800’s? I hardly knew where to begin. To try to convey the pleasure of Turgenev’s pastoral renderings, his sympathy for the poor people among whom he moved with affection and respect – to convey these qualities at that moment, holed up in the fuselage of a 767, seemed futile. I simply said that those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it, and took out my computer with a smile, to begin writing this article. I had been getting myself into a frame of mind, you see, thinking that in a school, which is all about the future, the past exists in order to build on it.

Flying does give you time to read and write, a bit of a consolation prize for line-ups, security inspections and cramped seats.

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Bob Snowden
Bob Snowden was Head of School at St. Michaels University School for 22 years, from 1995-2017.

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