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Mountain Day

Continued from Pre-union

Mountain Day is an old tradition at Smith College. It is always a fine day in the fall - usually in October - when the bells all over campus ring before 8 o'clock in the morning. Nobody knows when it's coming. The President of the College chooses the day based on the weather.

All classes are cancelled. Libraries, labs and practice rooms are closed. Students are not allowed to study, and the President has been known to march through the houses shooing girls outside.

On Mountain Day, you get on a bike or take a hike and climb one of the mountains: Mt. Nonotuck, for example. The leaves are turning all those famous colors, and the air is cool and dry. We had a picnic lunch and stayed out all day and came back sun-baked, windblown, tired and happy.

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So it was natural that for amusement on our "pre-union" weekend this summer we headed for the hills. Specifically, we headed for Rattlesnake Hill and hiked up to the top, from which we could see Squam Lake (a.k.a. Golden Pond).

From the top of the mountain we looked out over the lake and the valleys and the distant hills, and talked about that passage in middle life, where we all are, when we see our parents off.

Some of us have lost both parents. Some still have both. Lynne is facing the loss of a parent to Alzheimer's. Terry has been through that one. Vicki still has one frail and elderly parent. I just lost one.

Judy has not even started this passage: both her parents are still doing well. Susan's parents have both been gone for 20 years now.

When I was 18, 19, 20, I loved to climb Mount Nonotuck. It's about 800 feet high, I suppose, maybe 600 feet of climbing from the base to the summit. Just a nice little hike.

I was so thrilled the first time, when I reached its stony pate. I could see way off over the green hills and valleys. Here and there, you could see a steeple. I climbed it two or three times a year, and it was thrilling every time.

On top of Rattlesnake Hill, though I thought it was beautiful, I didn't have the sense of elation that I used to get from high places with long views. These days, it is the perspective of many years that I get a kick out of. I like being able to say "twenty years ago," "thirty years ago," "forty years ago."

How's this: on the way up, flying out of Newark (where my flight connected) I could see New York City down below me and I thought, "I lived there fifty years ago!"



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