Skiing to Nirvana via South Pond

What do you get when you combine athletes in tight-fitting Nordic ski togs with people in woolen shirts and wooden skis, and put them together in the beautiful snow-swathed woods? Marlboro’s world-famous annual Wendell-Judd Cup, of course. This year’s event featured ideal snow conditions and a beautiful sunny day for the 69 people that showed up to ski or snowshoe the route, a five-and-a-half mile loop over to South Pond and back. Their ages ranged from 7 to 70-something, and included several junior skiers under 16.

I really do like cross-country skiing, both the ups and the downs, but I would be lying if I told you I didn’t like careening down hills the best. Some of the highlights for me were whooshing down from the Town Trail to South Road and whizzing down the meadow from the Judd’s house to Lucier Road. As anyone who has done it knows, rolling down onto and across South Pond on a brilliant sunny day feels like you’ve skied halfway to Nirvana.

Of course what goes down, must go up; but one particular uphill, on Squirrel Loop just before reaching campus, is branded into my memory like a hot poker. My thighs still hurt just thinking about it; it was the kind of hill where people-all kinds of people, not just whiners like me-stopped at the foot of and said, “holy cow, you’re kidding!” Fortunately, by this point I was just a snowball’s throw from campus and I could already smell the soup brewing in the Campus Center.

In the final stretch, the fastest skier was Topher Sabot who came in at a blistering 34 minutes and 27 seconds, followed shortly by Landon Elliot-Knaggs (son of OP director Randy) and junior Willson Gaul. Edmund Brelsford, professor emeritus, should have gotten the best-dressed award, for his red, yellow, and blue tights that made your eyes hurt. Then there were the rest of us, who came in some time later after stopping at the base of that hill to say, “holy cow, you’re kidding!”


Short Order at Town Meeting

Everyone must have been a bit jittery from all those Valentines Day "candygrams," because Town Meeting went flashing by in a record 25 minutes. I had to drink a double mocha cocoa just to keep up with the rapid-fire committee reports. Assembled members sprawled attentively around the dining hall in their hats and coats, sipping tea and eating cookies, bracing for the raw, stormy weather brewing outside. Moderator Heidi Koos ran a tight ship, and there were neither fund requests nor old business to play broomball with, so the members went through the agenda in short order.

Something that always fascinates me is that that despite 60 years of revising and tinkering, there is still ample room for improvement of the bylaws. I suppose I shouldn't be too surprised: it took hundreds of thousands of years for humans to evolve and I still bump my head on low ceilings every chance I get. I had this same head-bumping sensation when treasurer Alec Koumjian proposed a change in the bylaws regarding the Town Meeting General Fund and the so-called "Reserve Fund." The current language specifies that the Reserve Fund is "drawn from" the General Fund, in other words that there is nothing really very "reserve" about it. When the General Fund is gone, so is the Reserve Fund. Ouch, my head.

Alec suggested new language that calls for the Reserve Fund to be budgeted as part of the Student Activities Fund. It's still in English, of course; those selectboard members just like to throw around that phrase, "new language." He also proposed new language that would explicitly direct scholarship requests to the Scholarship Fund (ouch, my head, again) rather than to the General Fund as has become a frequent habit. Alec pointed out that this growing tendency for scholarship requests during Town Meeting gives them an unfair advantage over others who plan ahead and apply to the Scholarship Fund, as well as subverting the selectboard's ability to budget for other items. All I can say is that I'm glad Alec has his able hands on the Town Meeting purse strings; I feel certain he doesn't bump his head on low ceilings as often as I do.

But enough about funds. The other highlight of the Town Meeting for me was when Isaac Lawrence and Raf Kelman, student representatives at trustee meetings, entertained questions. They were asked by one young woman, "Are there any snappy dressers?" She was assured that they all were, indeed, snappy dressers in their own way.



Dutiful in the Beautiful Dining Hall

Okay, I know this is a dangerous revelation on my part (can you say, "career change?"), but I love dining hall duty. I love it so much that when I was not included on the duty roster I brought this fact to the attention of the dining hall crew chief. I think this had never happened, at least in his tenure, because he was speechless. He gratefully stuck me in with today's jolly crew.

There is something very gratifying about wiping those gooey plastic tablecloths with a cleaner that smells like it could peal the paint off a new car (of course it's actually quite benign Spic n' Span). All those French fries, all that salad dressing, all that soup and mayonnaise, a scavenger's feast of forgotten leftovers, all of this becomes ancient history and the tables are tabla erasa, so to speak, ready to receive another meal. There are not many other jobs that I have found in which you can reach a satisfying conclusion in ten minutes. Then comes the really rewarding part: stacking chairs on the tables so the floor can be swept and mopped. There are certain ways the chairs fit together best, like Legos, and then they line up along the tables in ranks as if they are the vanquishing armies of cleanliness against clutter, good against evil. My comrades and I smile knowingly at each other over this order, amid the chaos of our everyday lives, with the full realization that we have done the job well.


Broomball is Boss

I have a hard time imagining any other circumstance where people could possibly look goofier than they do playing broomball. Of course I’m used to looking smooth and refined most of the time, so it was a really hard choice to play on the staff/faculty team in the exhibition game against the RAs. However, there was no turning back once I had my goofy elbow pads and kneepads and helmet on. I was all about the game.

Our team played a really good “passing game,” or so I heard, and scored the first goal. I think I got an assist, but maybe that was an opponent’s head I was sweeping. Everything was kind of blurry, and the crowd was just screaming, screaming things I can’t repeat. You know how hard it is to rub your belly and pat your head at the same time? Well running around on the ice and trying to hit a ball with a broom is exactly the same kind of thing. Every time you focus on the ball and try to hit it, you forget that you’re running on the ice, which is a bad idea. I’ve done a fair amount of sweeping in my life, so I probably had an advantage over some of these kids who think that brooms are for witches, or for wrapping duct tape around and playing on the ice with. Still, the RAs made a goal in the second half and then won “instant death” in double overtime. I was disappointed not to go on to play the maintenance department (with t-shirts emblazoned: Maintenance is Pissed!!!), but the RAs beat them handily as well so I guess they were the better team. Sometimes age and wisdom aren’t all they cracked up to be.

In the elimination tournament, last year’s champs Nate Weeks and the Destroyers fought hard to defend their title, beating Team Walmart (wearing the obligatory shopping bags) and last year’s runner up Johannes Huckleberry in the first two rounds. But the Destroyers finally met their match in the semifinals against Team Karim, amidst must trash-talking from the banks of the pond. Sunday was warm, so the last games were played on a layer of water the color of miso soup. I don’t know if it tasted like miso soup, but many of the players could tell you because several went into it face first. In the finals, Team Karim played valiantly against Will Timson Phalussy, but took second place in the end. The Phalussy benefited from having several kayakers on the team who were perfectly comfortable going face-first into freezing water the color of miso soup. For a full report of the tournament from the Brattleboro Reformer, go to