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 (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 42 years ago, Mr
Peck has been dabbling at lots of odds and ends, but (up to a certain age) 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. And lots of non-competitive snowcaving, just for the fun of it. And a lot of monster
running, too, over the mountains 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, until in 2009 the Battered Old ACS finally left this earth. And his library has apparently been acquired by another institution, thoroughly weeded out, and put back into service.
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 passed
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 was a comedown, at the time, from the Alps to the
Jura mountains, 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), known as the "Ramsar
Convention". Ramsar is the world's first global treaty for conservation
and sustainable management of natural resources -- there are presently 170 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 2,326 wetlands
round the world, over 249 million hectares' worth (2,290,000 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. Update 2017: No, he's gone now, too, but we're still helping out a bit for our good friends at MedWet.
Update 2019, Quite a Sad One: Well, no more, unfortunately. In March 2019, after 42 years in our pricey paradise, we're back in the USA, under semi-duress, in Staunton, Virginia in fact, one of a very few possibilities that looked to be congenial. And, so far, it is.
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 Gemini Observatory 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.
a work in progress
Summer 2018. The Langhe region in northern Italy, then Virginia, then Wisconsin. The summer began with a ten-day sightseeing visit in mid-May to the beautiful Langhe area of the Italian region of Piemonte, with stops in Alba, Saluzzo, Savigliano, Fossano, and Asti, along with a large number of castles. Then the seasonal journey back to the USA, this time with a five-day stop-off on the Delmarva Peninsula with old friends and another five days househunting in Charlottesville and Staunton. Back to the Wisconsin Northwoods in late June for the now-annual frolicking on the lake, and finally a last stop in Staunton, Virginia, before coming home in mid-September.
Winter 2017-2018. In the awful Year of Trump (hopefully the last one). Autumn got off to a good start in early October, for Alison's and Mark's visit from Hawaii, with some hiking around the 19th century mountain hotel of Rosenlaui, in the region of the Eiger north wall. Later in the month, we wedged in a visit to Lisbon, Portugal, and the nearby attractions. In mid-December we devoted a few weeks to San Marino [photo left] and other scenic wonders in the Marche and Emilia-Romagna regions of Italy, including Ferrara, Rimini, Cesena, and finally Vogogna on the road home. After some good snowshoeing in mid-winter, in February we visited various spots in Lombardy, based in Lodi with side trips to the Brera in Milan, Crema, and Como. Some more good spring snowshoeing, and finally a good start for the summer with a mid-May trip to the Langhe area southeast of Torino, with its beautiful hills mostly topped by castles.
Recent Events, 1995-2017
(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, 2016-2019