Tuesday, December 20, 2022

December's Cold and Color

On this windy late afternoon, we met at the River to Ridge parking lot just outside of New Paltz. Bundled up, with traction on our feet, we set out toward the Shawangunk Ridge. No words, just movement, attentive to the sensations of this time and place, its weather and light. 

This Silent Walk was the first to take place in open farmland, away from wild woods.
 Our gaze naturally fell on the field's color and texture as we crunched our way through remnant snow, but who could resist the lifting appeal of such a dramatic sky? 

The following are reflections from participants of the walk. Sincere thanks to each of them for sharing this experience, braving the wind, and contributing a few words. The images and text suggest what it was like but nothing beats actually going on the walk! Join us next time.

"silence" is the sound of cramponed boots crunching through the snow and gravel

More than 256 colors, so many browns-some I can't name.
On paper, these colors are translucent. In the sky and on the ground they make sense...even if I don't know what they are called.

Maxfield Parrish orange sky,
Hundreds of pin oaks,
Hand drawn, animated clouds,
Deep scarlet brambles still holding fruit

I loved being part of the silent herd. What a break!

The snow revealed old labors.

Walking in winter at twilight is filled with extremes - extremely cold and windy, and extremely beautiful. The landscape was stark and magnificent as we walked into the setting sun.
 The colors were stunning, from watching the vibrant pink in the clouds change to deep purple, to the swaths of red and gold that were lit up by the setting sun. 

After spending the day playing video games of war, 
it's refreshing to walk silently and re-engage with my body.

The clouds stretched into vapor, no match for the wind.

L'art de vivre


I loved the silhouette of the twin trees as we looked south and the dark line of woods at the end of our hike set against the hot pink sky, Jupiter high above.

"A beauty of meaning, movement and radiance"

Thanks to Unison Arts, especially Faheem Haider and Ally Bell, for their support of the Silent Walks.  Thanks also to the Open Space Institute for preserving and protecting open spaces such as the River to Ridge Trail. This is year end appeal time, so please consider supporting the good work these organizations do!

Lastly, I offer sincere gratitude to the Silent Walk's silent photographer, Thom Munterich. 
Thanks for this lovely documentation!

Friday, November 11, 2022

Blue Light, Blood Moon

November's walk started in darkness as clocks were turned back just 2 days before. Honestly, walking in the dark is the best part of the Silent Walks. Plus the moon sailed high in the sky, casting the tree shadows across our path in sharp, striped relief. We offered glow bracelets to those who wanted, which are the little dots of green or blue in the photos. The clear air and wash of blue-gray moonlight felt like walking through an old movie where the night scene is actually filmed during the day, dark and bright at once.

The forest was in focus but tinted to monochrome, 
better to perceive the light.

What follows are the words offered by participants after the Walk finished. With the photographs, they intend to convey an idea of what the Walk was like. To be sure, they are markers of an experience, a way to jog the memory, but nothing compares to the full sensation of going on the Walk.

Amazing...so peaceful, so refreshing

 Gravity is much more present in the dark--feet connected to the earth, 
keeping me from falling.

With a closed mouth and an open mind, I felt 

Thoughts rolling around like marbles in my head, 
left over from the day

What a profound experience to be walking in quiet community in the moonlight in this place. 
 This one was so special. When we humans are moving together, we vibrate differently. 
When we humans are silent we hear so many other voices both inside and outside ourselves. 
 I felt like the light and companionship were filling up my stores while preparing me for the dark and inward-turning season.

The moonlight and wind, dancing a tango across the water.

I felt the breeze a moment before
 the moonlight's sudden flash across the water, dazzled.

Diamond water, some kind of otherworld message--
felt love, universal peace

I had an excellent Silent Walk in the dark woods. 
The most amazing part I noticed was the reflection of the full moon on the reservoir water.
 The water came to life!
Thanking you from my heart.


As far in the woods as we were, the world never let go. 
The ambience of civilization moved across the sky,
danced with the wind, and road the darkness. 

The moonlight was very beautiful on the water. 
It really looked like something was happening out there!

The magic moon

Moonlight--like forest lamplight magic

Wind on the water,
Shadows from the moonlight.

The Silent Walks offer sincere thanks to Black Rock Forest,
 a living laboratory of research and education. Their work helps to preserve the Hudson Highlands environmental legacy. 
Please support Black Rock Forest by becoming a 
Special thanks to Brienne Cliadakis, Susanne Vondrak, Aaron Culotta, Matt Brady, and retiring executive director, Bill Schuster, PhD. 


My enduring gratitude to
 the Silent Walks photographer, Thom Munterich. 



Saturday, June 18, 2022

The Sounds and the Silence

In Arctic Dreams, Barry Lopez suggests a way to experience a wild place " ...to approach with an uncalculating mind, with an attitude of regard. To try to sense the range and variety of its expression—its weather and colors and animals. And to be alert for its openings, for that moment when something sacred reveals itself within the mundane, and you know the land knows you are there.”  

On this June evening at Black Rock Forest, we each translated the mundane into the sacred in our own way, if at all. Yet this is very much the ethos of the Silent Walks. At our best, we let go of expectation and adopt an "attitude of regard." The still air let the water offer a perfect reflection of trees, laurel and sky. No breeze meant a clarion chorus of frogs, birds, and bugs--including a deafening gray tree frog at Aleck Meadow and later a delightful barred owl. Starting with evening sun, we had the whole walk to observe the fading light, the green deepening to black, the lost contours. At the end, June's strawberry moon rose in a haze of yellow, casting our shadows to guide us back. 

Thank you to everyone who walked and watched and listened and shared. A special thanks this month to Diana Mangaser, Director of Ann Street Gallery, for her enthusiastic support of linking this Silent Walk with my installation for the 1x1x1. It was wonderful to have some Ann Street friends on the walk!

The following are brief impressions shared by several walkers and photographic documentation. Click any image to enlarge, and check out the short video for sounds. To be sure, nothing compares to the consciously aesthetic experience of being part of the landscape.  Join us!

Entering the quiet zone

Silent walking, meditating on what? Footsteps, frogs, owls, silence....beauty

 Every step an intention, falling behind the head, two swallows dance above the water.
This Silent Walk was so peaceful. There were so many moments where I became very introspective, but the sounds of nature would bring me back to the present moment.
It was wonderful to just listen to all the noises. Usually, I am rushing when I am here, but this was an opportunity to just be.

Ethereality--an experience that was both other worldly and right in the moment. 
One symphony of sight and sound.

Humbling to hear the chorus of so many creatures' songs--they are all around--and we are insignificant.

A leaf breaks the mirror of water.
Reflections of flowers and trees, rippling
perfect lively silence

Lovely to watch the transition from evening to night and I saw a strawberry beneath the strawberry moon!

Silent, Lovers, Friends

I couldn't tear myself away from the moon! Loved seeing huge rocks split by tree roots.

Black Rock Forest is such a special place. Thank you to the many people who work hard to make it the hallmark of advancing scientific understanding of the natural world through research, education, and conservation. My particular thanks to Brienne Cliadakis, Susanne Vondrak, and Aaron Culotta for their support of the Silent Walks.

Become a friend of the forest!


Special thanks to Emmett Munterich, the photographer for this month's walk.

Sunday, October 31, 2021

A Nocturne for October


     How lucky we were having a Silent Walk on this perfect October night. We added this because we wanted a Silent Walk in the fall, different but consistent with the spring. The evening sounds and smells, and especially the moon rise, gave us a chance to recalibrate to forest time.

checking in

     The light was already fading as people arrived. We started in near total darkness, and witnessed a shy moon finally rise above the clouds. Walking tonight was moving through an impressionist's nocturne. Every edge was blurred, every color a soft glow. Pungent smells of decay, the constant rasp of katydids, and too many airplanes revealed the industry around us. We contain multitudes.

    The following are photographs taken by the Silent Walk photographer, Thom Munterich. Included with them are comments written by several of the participants. They offer a sense of the experience, but nothing compares to going on the walk.

Jupiter above us
Every time my head said, "Where am I?"
my feet said, "Right here."

Watching the moon clear the horizon made me weep involuntarily. The beauty had to be acknowledged. It was hard to turn away and continue walking.

With my eyes adjusted to the dark, when the moon rose...for a second it seemed as bright as the sun.

A curious beaver at Aleck Meadow quietly swam over to check us out, then slowly swam away, giving us a thin white wake to follow across the water's glass.  Not so the beaver at the Upper Reservoir, who startled me with each slap. Takes all kinds, I guess.

On the Silent Walk, I notice the transition between thinking and sensing. 

I noticed: How the air moves over the surface of the skin, the pockets of warmth, the smell of still water, how air thickens, the thin layers of fear and bravery when I walked by myself, how time moves differently in the woods

I was silent but never quiet.

 At first it was like watching a stage curtained, a slow reveal, a patient audience; and then it was like watching, waiting for a lover to disrobe, full of anticipation, and once revealed, you couldn't look away.

What hit me so hard at first-the various walks (of human history) and 

All the ways in which we walk 

To our death

To live/nomadic at first

For pleasure

In exhaustion

In unison


Katydids made the walk different than the spring.

I liked the feeling of different textures underfoot.

Beautiful, peeking moon.

Magical walk in the dark! Can't believe how much you can see. The trees were silver!



Thanks once a again to Black Rock Forest for supporting The Silent Walks.  Special thanks to Brienne Cliadakis, Susanne Vondrak, Aaron Culotta, Angie Patterson and Matt Brady for all the ways your work has helped the forest and those (like me) who love it. 

Please support Black Rock Forest by becoming a member.