Clark Peck, Jr is
a quiet, gracefully-aging gentleman who has managed so far to
keep more or less out of harm's way.
"grew up" in northern New
Jersey in the United States of America, and whilst living in that
country fetched up on two world record track-and-field
relay teams at the University of Kansas and clutching a PhD in Renaissance Literature
in Ohio. Not to mention an MLS master's degree
in library and archival science in Rhode Island (and some other BAs and MAs -- eleven long years in university!). And he taught
in universities, too, for quite a while, the History
of Ideas of all improbable things, and 16th-century Renaissance
Lit, along with lots and lots of Freshman English and Intro to Poetry, in Ohio, Oklahoma,
oh where not? Uncountable late nights poring over nasty old books and microfilm
readers, grubbing about amongst crumbly manuscripts in archives and public records
offices in England, and rather a short bibliography to show for it in the end. Most of his research publications had to do with political
propaganda and espionage in the 1580s -- a field in which no one could make a
decent living even in the 1580s,
let alone now. Shakespeare was his favorite subject to teach, until after a while he was embarrassed to discover
that all the best bits made him want to cry.
moved to Switzerland 40 years ago, Mr
Peck has been dabbling at lots of odds and ends, but mainly playing about in the
mountains. He was considered amongst his friends to be one of the better uphill
afterwork nighttime skiers, inspired in the more extreme applications
of telemark skis fitted with crosscountry bindings and sealskins on the bottom,
with a couple of headlamps on. Getting back down was always trickier, naturally;
but with his full share of broken bones he nearly always managed to do so. And lots of non-competitive snowcaving, just for the fun of it. And a lot of monster
running, too, over the mountains and across the glaciers and down in the
wooded dales, until in the end his knees went off to join the Long
Fathers, so then semi-crippled walking-wise he worked for 15 years or so at less
energetic hobbies like prancing about
on snowshoes and looking for long downhills on his Scott mountainbike, called
"Humvee", and his LeMond Tourmaley road bike called "Greg",
depending upon the season. And for the future, well, on verra.
ACS and Leysin
ACS. Mr Peck
worked for many years at the American College of
Switzerland, formerly an independent US-accredited liberal arts college
located in Leysin,
a ski resort in the Vaudoise Alps, and as Head Librarian he built the 50,000-volume ACS library from scratch.
And was Academic
Dean from time to time when required. The American College went bankrupt in
1991 and lingers on only as a fond memory,
though the building and the name were still being used, somewhat blasphemously,
by a commercial educational fastfood chain, in disgraceful conditions, until in 2009 the Battered Old ACS finally left this earth. And his library sits up there on the
mountain, with moss growing on it.
Tour de Famelon, circa 1983
For the nostalgic amongst us, here are some photos of Leysin
village and surroundings circa 1979 and, into the bargain, mountain
scenery all roundabout Leysin in the same era.
Jura. In 1992, seriously unemployed after the College's passage
into History, Mr Peck sold his chalet in Leysin -- SOB! -- and moved "to the valley!", in the Geneva-Lausanne axis (to
Gimel, then to Trélex, then to Bassins near Nyon, and thence to Féchy). It's a comedown from the Alps to the
Jura mountains, true enough, but the southwest Jura is not without its mountainy
charms, and so now we've got an inexhaustible collection of photos of the local sites, including Jura farms in winter, caverns in the snowy forest floor, all to remind us that continuously
good fun can be had almost wherever in this world you may be, as long as it's
Update 2014: Goodbye to the Jura; we've moved back to Ollon near Aigle, just downhill from Leysin. And predictably, we miss the Jura sorely!!
Coming off a few years as Librarian of the American
Library of Geneva, Mr Peck has since 1993 become an earnest environmentalist, toiling
long hours in the casual uniform of Communications
Officer of the Convention on Wetlands
(Ramsar, Iran, 1971), or the "Ramsar
Convention". Ramsar is the world's first global treaty for conservation
and sustainable management of natural resources -- there are presently 169 nations
that are Contracting Parties to the Convention, and its secretariat is housed
with The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in Gland, Switzerland. Some 2,242 wetlands
round the world, over 215.2 million hectares' worth (2,152,000 km2), are presently
covered by the Ramsar umbrella. Here's a brief history of Mr
Peck's sojourn with Ramsar, and here is a link to the Ramsar
Convention website, which ought to answer
all of your swamp, marsh, bog, fen, estuary, coral reef, near-shore marine, and
peatland questions or make you wish you hadn't asked.
that bad a job, warn't it; better than making munitions or cigarettes, or innovative fertilizers. Update February 2010: Mr Peck is now officially semi-retired, henceforward working 50% as Documentation
Officer, preparing official documents and publications. Update January 2014: Mr Peck, Ramsar-wise, is now a semi-interested member of the public, trusting that the Ramsar Secretariat, with its new Secretary General, can get back into the game, after a gumbo decade.
And that's that! Retirement. Not half as bad as advertised. In fact . . . when the sun's out on the patio, and we're nodding off with an improving book, this is pretty close to what we've been waiting for, for a very long time. Update May 2015: Uh oh, we're going back to work, at the 12th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Ramsar Convention, late May to mid-June, in Punta del Este, Uruguay. Just when we were getting settled in on the patio. With our improving book. Update November 2015: Well, that new SG's gone already, but the same best wishes for the next new Secretary General. In the meantime, Mr Peck works on demand for the only first-rate Secretary General Ramsar ever had, Mr Blasco, who's now the Coordinator for the Mediterranean Wetlands Initiative (MedWet) in the Camargue wetlands in France.
One: Alison was living in Chile, where she was the Deputy Project Scientist building the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array project (ALMA); thence to the HQ of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Charlottesville, VA, USA; and newly with Mark back to the observatories on Mauna Kea on the Hawaian Big Island.
Two: Deirdre is no longer with us,
but when she was, she was the greatest. We won't even try to describe what she
was like. For more pix, click on the photo here.
Three (left): Marlowe spent her first decade in Switzerland, then lived in England
for three & a half years and came to visit every other weekend throughout
that time. Thence to the USA, and as soon as possible afterward, off for university to Canada, where some years later she consorts with Dima and Young Bill and visits us every summer.
Summer 2016. In the shadow of the embarrassing US election campaigns. Following an invigorating 10 days in the Lago di Garda region, based in Sirmione with daily side trips, in mid-May, we were pleased to squeeze in a brief visit to Colmar in the Alsace region in early June, and then in early July to follow Kristin on to the USA for our annual frolic on the lake in northern Wisconsin. We met friends Mark and Nancy for some sightseeing on the Garden Peninsula in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and then joined wetland enthusiasts for a study tour of the Madison Aububon’s Goose Bay Sanctuary, with our guides Mark and Sue Martin, and the Horicon Marsh Wildlife Refuge, with conservation management explanations by representatives of the Wisconsin DNR and the US Fish and Wildlife Service. And finally Marlowe and Dmitri escorted Young Bill down for a good long spell of raft-jumping, trampolining, and hydrobiking.
Winter 2015-2016. Some Italian travels. After a few scenic autumn walks around home, we've been off for some November sightseeing in the Italian Umbria region, with a stop in Piacenza on the drive down; based in hillside Gubbio, we managed daytrips to Assisi, Urbino, and Perugia, with some walks in the hills as well. In December, we investigated the huge Fort Bard in the Val d'Aosta, with sidetrips to Ivrea and Turin, but Parma in Emilia-Romagna is so stuffed with things to see that we spent our February week in place. After some springtime snowshoeing, we visited the Lago di Garda region, based in Sirmione on the lake, with day trips to Verona, Vicenza, and Mantua, including three Castelli degli Scaligeri, and a look-in on Casale Monferrato on the way home. But we missed a lot more towns and need to go back as soon as possible.
(Herr Peck's and a few others). An essay on faces and what they sometimes reveal or don't. (And Kristin's as well.)
The view from home, 2016