Rites of Spring

By Craig Gemmell
Head of School

Winter’s snow only a memory, excepting the residual white fingers slowly retreating up the slopes of Gunstock Ski Area across the lake. Early yesterday morning Lamb Green was frosty, and I left footprints in the grass, yet temps had soared to the mid-seventies by the time sailors and rowers made their way to the docks in the afternoon. Seniors cluster in eddies of conversation on their patio; I wore shorts last night after the school day had ended. Culminating and celebratory events fill the calendar, prom-posals are happening at a frenzied rate (Jake and Casey are going together if you haven’t gotten the memo), and the project period approaches quickly. Spring is here in all its mayhem.

For the last few weeks, I’ve been reeling with all I’ve been taking in. After the calm of winter and the comforts of sweaters, warm boots, and the warmth of the Estabrook fireplace, now shorts, flip-flops, sun, and lots of emotion. Last night, I took three freshmen out to dinner and listened to them talk wistfully about the end of their wonderful year. School prefects gathered in my living room thereafter, at dusk, and riffed on the same theme, the loudest in the chorus the two senior prefects in our midst, Sam and Hannah, who lead our school (and, frankly, me) so remarkably well with characteristic commitment and joy and silliness.

As their imminent departure sunk in and, they left me with an empty house and my thoughts, I, too, found myself wistful about the end: the reality that this wonderful place will seem less new to me, less fresh in my second year living at Brewster. With familiarity that my second year will bring, will I be less freshened by this place? Will I take all I’ve come to love about it for granted? Will it seem more a job and less an adventure? I tossed and turned all night as I gathered my thoughts about the simultaneous looking forward and back that spring provokes.

One of the many reasons why I’ve loved living a life with students is that they are frequently the best teachers, and I was reminded of what Peach (Caitlyn Petro), a senior, offered to the school at morning meeting earlier this week. For in a reflection that elicited a standing ovation, she grounded her peers and teachers in an elegant idea: we spend too much time thinking over history and future. The present is where we should really live.

Spring, I suppose, might be the time we grow the most. Peach reminds us that it is the time we are most awake to our inner and outer worlds, and we need to use this time well. So as I cast headlong into the heart of the season and all its chaos, I’m trying to take a moment or two, here and there, to zoom out while our bit of coastline tips a bit more directly toward the sun and let the light shine on the whole of my experience in the present. I’m trying to take the advice of a student named Peach. As I do so, gratitude wells up for that which abides here, every moment, in midst of this particular season at Brewster.