Tuesday, January 2, 2024

The Gentle Solstice



     We gathered as the late afternoon of December 20th released its light into the soft hues of evening. The Silent Walk has often been at the end of an intense day, and it takes a few minutes for the buzzing of thoughts to slow down. The tenor of this evening was gentle--cold but no wind, clouds to catch the color, and the steady crunch of our careful steps along the path. 
      Sunday's flooding rain meant we had to reschedule the Walk to the day before the Solstice. While we lost some people, we were happy to welcome several first timers and many returning participants.

 Thank you to everyone who joined us! 

      Participants can share a few words (if they want) about the walk, and those words follow. The photographs are taken by Thom Munterich, and we thank him for his unobtrusive documentation. In combination, words and images suggest what it was like, but nothing compares to going on the walk. Please join us next time!

A perfect time to empty my mind and fill it with the beauty and peace of a silent walk.

Rush hour cares tumbling, rumbling. Water tumbling, rumbling. 
Time pauses. Life goes.

I felt disoriented seeing the sky below the land, a perfect reflection.

Enjoyed listening to my footfalls in the dark

The scary tree

Moonlight was very powerful.

White water ribbons dancing in the moonlight

Loved the symmetry. 

My favorite part is how the time slows.
The smallest shift of light, color, sound marks the moment. 
The cold air smells delicious, clean.

We ended the walk sharing some chocolate, oranges, and our thoughts. Did the holidays offer a lens through which to experience this night or was it the other way around?

My sincere thanks to
Black Rock Forest for supporting the Silent Walks! 
Special thanks to 
Brienne Chiadakis, Susanne Vondrak, and Aaron Culotta.

 Black Rock Forest is a research forest and biological field station. Their mission is to advance scientific understanding of the natural world through research, education, and conservation programs.
Please support their work by becoming a member!



Monday, June 26, 2023

Longest Day's Journey into Night


Elderberry flowers

    During the hours before a walk, I start craving the mental detox, the unknotting of threads that tangle my thoughts throughout the day. Sharing the experience of whatever happens along the path and at the water feels wonderful. Framed as art, we come together, each of us finding an opening to the sounds, smells, tastes, feel, light, and colors of this forest. 

  The evening of June 21st was breezy and clear. After the walk, we shared some chocolate and fruit, and participants wrote a few words for this blog if they chose. These follow with photographs and videos from the Silent Walk photographer, Thom Munterich. 

Many thanks to everyone who participated!

Click photo to enlarge.

One word to describe tonight-gratitude

pale beauty moth

Silence on the hike=all the senses kicking into high gear. 
A thousand shades of green, the smells and songs of the woods

wineberries in sepals

changing light-always wonderful

The diversity of the people matches the diversity of the leaves, the bark, the ground's texture beneath our feet. Our movements become one with the wholeness of nature, the complexity of our interdependence.


I feel large and small. I feel calm and connected.

I want to follow the trails off the larger path.

Hearing the forest birds is lovely, different than other places--veery, wood thrush, phoebe, and a tanager. A meditative treat to listen to them talk instead of us.

that heavenly cool breeze over the reservoir
sunset peeking through the trees--brilliant orange
the dry spillway looking like an ancient civilization

Beautiful tangerine sunset! I focused on a single dead tree, one flowering bush on the other side of the reservoir, and one lone bullfrog.

Day lingers into night

I noticed I missed taking pictures more than talking...
...the wind noise, the tree leaves, birds chasing bugs across the water, straight trees, 
all the water captured by man

pink sky
crescent moon
the silence was just awesome

Nobody swam naked!
Note: Just before we started, we learned that June 21 is National Hike Naked Day.

dead ring-necked snake

The woods are full of life and death.


Sincere thanks to the staff at Black Rock Forest, 
especially Brienne Cliadakis, Susanne Vondrak, Aaron Culotta, and Matt Brady.  
This nearly 4000 acre forest is a living laboratory for field-based research and education that advances a scientific understanding of the natural world.  
Become a Friend of the Forest to support their great work!

The next BRF Silent Walk will be in December. Please join us!

Monday, May 15, 2023

May Fever

As a bookend to the R2R Silent Walk last December, Unison Arts and I planned this spring walk during my exhibition run. Just a few of us this time made for a relaxing stretch of legs and thoughts.

The sensory characteristics of open farm land on a warm May evening were soft and insistent. We smelled, heard, saw, felt, breathed the season.

The following are photographs and a short video to suggest the experience. With them are shared reflections by participants. You can click on photographs to enlarge.

What subtlety in this green.

Sun Dog
Bird Song
Fresh Hay
Sweet Breeze

Sublime kept coming to mind.

Sweet grass fragrance filled the air as redwing blackbirds and bobolinks flew all around us. 

We watched the sun descend behind Skytop, the Shawangunk Ridge a silhouette against a painted backdrop. 

Thoughts come and go like the playful growl of dogs along the path.

Listening to bobolinks and redwing blackbirds, darting and calling in the grass, I suddenly walked through a pocket of cool air. 

A line created by recent heavy rains

Thank you to the Silent Walk participants! These photographs and words help describe what it was like, but nothing compares to actually going on the walk. 

Thanks to Unison Arts for supporting the December and May Silent Walk at the River to Ridge Trail. Special thanks to Faheem, Emilie, and Ally. Unison is a non-profit arts organization that brings arts to the center of community life through artist-forward initiatives, arts advocacy, and socially engaged programs. Please support the good work they do here.

Thanks also to the Open Space Institute for preserving lands such as the River to Ridge Trail. Your support helps protect land for people, for wildlife, forever. 

Lastly, deepest gratitude to the Silent Walk's (nearly) unseen photographer, Thom Munterich
All images are his.


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!