Sad news today- Chis Pellegrini's father Ray passed away yesterday.
I first new Ray Pellegrini as my elementary school principal. In addition to running the school, he cooked pancake breakfasts, instituted the reading sleepover at the school (which students could only attend if they pledged to give up television for a week), the hot chocolate club, where students were recognized for good deeds in the school and allowed to sit down and have hot chocolate with Mr. P, and an annual kids vs. parents mud soccer game in the spring.
I later came to know the whole Pellegrini family through a friendship with Chris. Time at the Pellegrini house always filled me with a sense of well-being that I have come to learn I only feel after spending time with truly good people. Cross-country team dinners, Independence Day parties, and even chance meetings on the streets of Bristol only reinforced that feeling. I think at one time Chris wrote in my yearbook something to the effect of "Thank you for being a part of our family." Ray Pellegrini was a big part of the home that made it feel that way for me.
Ray is in so many of the photos I have from my own childhood, from school yearbooks to pictures from track and cross-coutry meets, high school events and such. He was such a presence in our lives growing up and one of the first adults in my life outside of my own family who I felt I knew as a person.
Yesterday, as Kate and Katie and I ate peanuts next to Kootenai Creek, she mentioned that she had once heard them called "Goober Peas." This launched me into a whole story about how when I was in sixth grade I gave that name as an answer to a question in a statewide geography competition, and though it was not the answer the panel was looking for, the judges paused to check because I had sounded so confident.
I doubt that I would have ever remembered that story, except that Ray told it back to me and my mother more than once, because he had been there that day and was impressed with my confidence, I guess. I just remember that the story made him smile, and it made me feel good to know that someone like me could make such a big, important person smile with a story that had to have been at least five years old when he told it.
Anyway, before I knew anything happened yesterday, Ray Pellegrini was already in my thoughts. His good will and love for kids, learning and a good story and a laugh had made it all the way to a little place in the Bitterroot mountains of Montana. That thought gave me some comfort today as I slogged through a work day that felt like it had been borrowed away from more important things.
To Lucy, Chris, Scott and Katie, Thank you so much for sharing Ray with all of us kids from Monkton Central School, all of us teenage punks from the track and cross-country teams, all of us twentysomethings home from college, and all of us as young adults lounging on your lawn drinking beer in the July sun. The landscape of my life and the lives of many others would not have been the same without him.
I'm not actively blogging here anymore. But if you got here because you were searching for something about bikes, you might want to check out my latest project, Vermont Goldsprints. In summer of 2014, I bought a used goldsprints racing setup and have made it a mission to get more bikes in more people's faces by putting on fun races in unexpected places. Come join me!
Our good friend Katie is in town again for a bit on her way back east from the wilds of California. She endured an overnight bus ride from Portland to be with us, for which we are very grateful. Anyway, we went out to Kootenai Creek this morning for a six mile out-and-back hike up the creek. Hiking up the creek was like hiking right out of spring. We were within a few hundred vertical feet of the residual snow in the Bitterroots by the time we turned around, and the creek itself ran cold and clear. There were lots of trilliums in bloom, and we managed to spook a couple of mule deer when we rounded a corner and found ourselves about 20 yards away. They crashed through the trees but only went a little way and then stayed on to watch us leave. They looked like 55 gallon drums on legs, and when they started to run it was loud- not at all like watching a whitetail run.