Starting Out, Keeping On

The problem with life, Rebecca often says, is that it is so damn daily. Of course from my cup-is-half-full perspective, this is also the opportunity. In any event, because of the (damn?) dailyness, we too often neglect our communications. So in lieu of a Christmas card or letter or a mud season greeting, I’m inaugurating this family blog with some notes on the months following our return from India.

Mark managed to pick up where he left off at school, teaching and writing. His book came out, Teaching North American Environmental Literature and he submitted his file for promotion to full professor. And in October he received the 2009 Award for Distinction in Research and Scholarship. Along with this honor he presented a talk as the keynote speaker for the April Academic Excellence Conference and at the faculty retirement dinner in June. And on June 25th the Trustees of the University system approved the recommendation of colleagues, provost and president and Mark is now a full professor. Rebecca settled back into her office by the pond and considered the differences between her status as a rock star in India and her peaceful pastoral life in rural New Hampshire. Periods of darkness and light (and George Carlin’s Hippy Dippy Weatherman once said) led to her appointment this spring as Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs at Antioch University/Graduate School. Her two-year administrative fellowship promises to provide new challenges and open new doors. She will continue teaching, too, and practicing law from the office down by the pond.


The 2009 Greater Springfield League A Division Pee Wee Champions

The kids picked up where they left off with a full fall season of soccer and dry-land training and then hockey with Ellinore and Nathaniel playing on upper division teams in the Greater Springfield League.  Nathaniel’s team was among the strongest in recent memory at the BHA. Two part time players, Peter-Owen Hayward and Ryan Little, who play in a regional select league (both kids I have coached since Nan started skating) and who are both on the Vermont all-star teams, complimented a group of kids who have been skating for at least four of five years. They played at the pee wee level. And pee wee hockey is where body contact comes in. So there is some roughness now in the game, even what I would call in my sensible timidity a bit o’ violence, and yet Nan has adapted well and (to his mother’s surprise) was seen late in the season to be pushing and checking players against the board to gain control of the puck. Nan is a defensive master, with a keen eye for where to be before you need to be there. He seems to just drift into the right place, as good defensiveness players do.


Nathaniel on the ice in the Vermont State Tournament

In the State Tournament, we were seeded in the A division and so were matched up against the top eight teams in the state. We lost a tough first game by one goal against Barre and then crushed (an appropriate hockey term) Middelbury. Then, we took on one of the top two teams in the state, Burlington, and took them to overtime where we had a few chances to win in sudden death but, in the end, lost. A great tournament and experience. The team played in a tournament in Chazy, New York, near Plattsburgh.


Nathaniel and his team just before the start of a playoff game

And then the season culminated in the GSL championships. We ended the season in second place and went through the playoffs with a win and a tie. To get to the championship game, we needed to beat one of our rivals, Holy Name, by three goals. We were without one of our best players, too, who had received a one game suspension for an inadvertent slash near the end of the last game. We played great team hockey and spectacular defense on the way to a 4-0 victory and a chance to play Troy Albany in the final game, a team we had lost to twice and tied once during the regular season. The championship game was intense. Troy Albany tied the game with a minute left and we went into overtime. And we won the game to take the GSL championship.


Ellinore on defense

Ellinore’s team had an eventful season as well. The GSL season was up and down, with a wide range of ability on the team. We improved over the course of the season and were playing well together by the state championships. We were in the AB division, and we went through the first rounds of the tournament winning tough games on the way to the championship game. We lost our first game to the home team from Montpelier and, because of the double-elimination format, returned the next day for a rematch. The game ended up a tie, with both teams playing great hockey. After a twelve minute overtime, the game was still tied. The second overtime also resulted in a tie, with both teams getting off shots that could have ended the game. (Ellinore’s defense was impeccable.) And then, finally, nine minutes into the third overtime, we broke free and scored a goal to win the Vermont State championship.


Coach Mark congratulating Evan Perkins just after winning the State Tournament

It was the fist team in the BHA to win at the AB level (we are ranked as a B organization) and we earned a trip to represent the state of Vermont in the regional championships in Rhode Island. The regional tournament went really well, though we ended up losing two games and heading home after a fabulous weekend of hockey. As I will explain in another post, hockey girl elected to forgo spring baseball for an all girls select hockey team.


The 2009 Vermont State Champion Squirts


Rebecca and Mark were involved in the hockey world. R serves on the board and is as often is the case responsible for resolving all problems and overcoming the kinks and snarls involved when kids and parents gather around sports. Mark was an assistant coach for both N and E’s teams. He also began playing hockey on Friday evenings. In addition to hockey (after all that, there is more?), both kids did very well in school. Despite the inevitable problems in a small independent school, we feel blessed by the Grammar School. Ellinore is reading voraciously-usually a book a day. She does her math and spelling words (tenure: “My daddy has tenure at Keene State College”) and Nathaniel completed longer writing and research assignments and continued to excel in mathematics and science.  After joining his mother for her Cornell reunion and standing in awe in the reading room in Myron Taylor Hall, he resolved to rededicate himself to his studies so that he can go to college. Ellinore, as it happens, has decided that she wants to attend Dartmouth.


This winter, we attended a women’s hockey game at the Lyman rink in Hanover. (You didn’t think we were done with hockey, did you? La vie est simple. Manger. Dormir. Joue au hockey.) We sat next to a nice couple from Canada who turned out to be the grandparents of one of the players on the team. In the third period, with forty seconds left in the game, Regan (their granddaughter) skated out on the ice, took a pass at the blue line, cut across to the right and then released a wrist shot that sailed into the upper-right corner of the net. We all leaped up and Rebecca and the grandmother embraced. 3-2 Dartmouth over Yale. About a week later, Ellinore received an e-mail from Regan that thanked us for coming to the game. Ellie e-mailed back and an e-mail conversation ensued over the next month between a ten-year old girl and a college girl. It turns out Regan rides horses (she grew up on the family farm). Ellie then asked if Regan might come down to skate with the Brattleboro girls team and Regan responded she and a few of her teammates would love to come down for a practice. To be continued, for sure, as hockey picks up again in the fall.

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Ellie with her Championship trophy

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