Friday, July 22, 2005

Schprock on Holiday

This is just a quick-hitter to talk about what the family and I did last weekend. We went to a place called World Fellowship Center in Conway, New Hampshire, right in the thick of the White Mountains. My nickname for this place is Hippy Camp, because a good many of the denizens appear either to be Children of the Sixties or Children of the Children of the Sixties. A common sight is the bald-pated septuagenarian who still has enough hoary strands of hair left to arrange into a little ponytail, or the middle-aged woman who celebrates gravity by going braless. Let me quote the description directly from their website:

“World Fellowship Center is an educational international, interracial, multicultural, intergenerational vacation center offering a unique environment to renew body, mind and spirit. Set amid 455 acres in New Hampshire's White Mountains, the World Fellowship Center invites people from diverse social, economic and cultural backgrounds and identities to share their vacations and ideas in a peaceful, rustic setting.

“Established in 1941, the Center has survived times when progressive thinkers were persecuted as threatening to the established order. For over 60 years the World Fellowship Center has promoted peace through educational and multi-cultural programs, providing opportunities for people of different backgrounds to meet and to discuss the issues of the day.”

They’re all about peace, love and understanding. They’re also about acceptance — anyone is welcome there — and that’s the quality I find most attractive about the place. The accommodations are decidedly rustic, the food is very good, and the discussions (often of a pronounced socialist bent) are lively, as they are usually focused on the plight of the poor, social injustice, racial harmony and so on. There are a lot of “free spirit” types, marked by unusual haircuts, clothing fashions unavailable at your local Gap, and a willingness to get up before a group of people and inexpertly sing or dance during “Fun Night” (i.e., an impromptu talent show put together every Friday night). Many of the people who go there are well-educated writers, scientists, musical performers, actors, artists and so on. World Fellowship Center is non-profit and it looks non-profit: you will not mistake it for a fashionable resort. It’s not where the beautiful people go.

Last weekend I managed to very successfully pack my work deadlines, unpaid bills and uncut lawn into a tiny compartment and tuck them neatly away where I’d be sure to find them again the following Monday. This year’s crew consisted of my wife, Myrna, Daughter Number 2, Ianna, and her best friend, Michael (Daughter Number 1, Lindsay, who’s an “adult” now, remained at home to keep my car company). We stayed at The Farmhouse, a rambling structure still in service despite its superannuated appearance. Although kept scrupulously clean, old age and rheumatism have set in and the signs are all over: the floors creak, the plumbing is often exposed, the furniture have all been rescued from the attics of a hundred grandmothers, hot showers are a chancy proposition, and repairs are made with chewing gum, thumbtacks and baling wire. One of the dressers in our room (which certainly dated back to around the turn of the 20th century) showed two replacement knobs of unfinished wood, which, for some odd reason, charmed me, maybe because I felt this item, trash to everyone else in the world, was still reverently kept in use and its value respected by the people in charge.

I met up with a friend of mine, Tim the Handyman (although he’s no longer the handyman there, but a regular nonetheless). We played a game of catch with a baseball, which is arguably the most pleasurable of the meditative acts (maybe Mona can appreciate this). I love playing catch and do it all too seldom. After the initial warm-up phase, after the muscles are toned and the mechanics of throwing have become straightened out, a rhythm or a flow establishes itself. Anyone who has played catch with a baseball when a kid knows exactly what I’m talking about. It’s an act at once simple and complex, and one that, after achieving the skill, you feel born to do. Body awareness occurs naturally and as you follow the various actions and note the muscle groups employed, the balances and counter-balances, the exertions and the stretches, you really begin to feel joy at sending a small round missile into space where it is captured and sent back to you again. Similar to how golfers break down and follow their swing in their minds, the same thing happens organically during a game of catch. First all the momentum goes one way during the wind-up; then the momentum is arrested and reversed as the body torques and converts all its energy into sending that little ball on its way. I throw sidearm — in other words, I’m a “slinger” — and through some unexplainable process the ball sort of rolls off my forefinger and mysteriously goes right where I want it to go.

The by-play is generally kept sparse and usually sounds something like this:

“Nice catch.”

“Good movement on that.”

“Whoa! Testing my laces!”

“Throw me another just like that.”

I brought a book up with me to read only to be seduced by another I found in The Farmhouse’s library: Man on Fire, by A.J. Quinnell. Everyone, I want you to put down your pencils right now, run out and get this book. It is extraordinarily well-written and done at an unhurried pace, because the author knows damn well he’s so good he couldn’t bore anyone. The characters are well-drawn, their actions believable, the dialogue is masterful and the story is extremely compelling. I couldn’t put it down and wound up reading all three-hundred-and-some-odd pages before we left. It’s a Schprock Lock, folks. Take it to the bank.

Anyway, here’s some pictures:

The Missus.

Myrna, Mr. Schprock, Tim the Handyman and his wife, Monica.

Mr. Schprock, Myrna, Ianna and Michael (Michael, by the way, is a really funny kid).


Blogger Henry said...

Sounds quaint!
I can see in that picture of Mrs. Schprock the variety of chairs, formerly junk--now put to good use!

(Thats not your living room, right?)

12:51 PM  
Blogger mr. schprock said...

"Thats not your living room, right?"

Don't I wish!

12:54 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

Glad you had fun. I'm the one who plays catch with the kids and I get better every year. Haha.

I'll say it again, you look so young!

1:32 PM  
Blogger Mrs.T said...

Great pictures! I love picture time!

Frankly I'm afraid of the ball now. I used to be able to play but I bruise easily and discovered these things the hard way, with lots of swelling. Sounds like you had fun though!!

2:34 PM  
Blogger Chloe said...

Just reading your post relaxed me... thank you. The older I get, the more I seek places like the one you described.

And suddenly I have an overwhelming urge to go play catch, something I haven't done in years!

5:21 PM  
Blogger mr. schprock said...

A good game of catch is the ultimate tonic! I heartily recommend it. Mrs. T, trying playing catch with a tennis ball. It sometimes pops out of your hands a bit, but it's fun and it won't hurt you. Knitter, flattery will get you everywhere! And Chloe, come on up to Boston and we'll throw around some leather (that's kinda slang for playing catch).

8:21 PM  
Blogger NYPinTA said...

Yes, because what I need to do is buy more books!! Thanks. *writes down book title anyhow* ;D

12:43 PM  
Blogger mr. schprock said...

You won't regret it!

3:59 PM  
Blogger trinamick said...

Umm, if I leave now to go get that book, I might get fired, so it had better be filled with money.

8:35 AM  
Blogger mr. schprock said...

Whatever it takes, get that book!

(At least you'll have something to do while standing in the unemployment line.)

8:47 AM  
Blogger Scott said...

Love the prose Mr. Schprock, especially about the WFS, and the celebration of gravity. Can't say I would complain about their methods, although if I learned one thing from living in San Francisco, the only people that prance around naked are the ones you would least like to see.

10:16 AM  
Blogger mr. schprock said...

Amen, brother.

The family and I visited San Francisco several years ago and loved it. Wonderful, wonderful city. We hope to go back someday.

11:25 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home