Shawangunk Ramble


This is, in many ways, a thin, bare place; a place that allows some poking around, some peeking between the cracks; a look behind the veil at the silent gearwork of an environment: water’s inventive knifework, the hard-laboring populace of birches, maples and hemlocks, gravity’s implacable and patient persistence. 

It’s this place-  

-this moss crusted, boulder spilled, cloud soaked mountain ridge; where trees poke out of rocks like fingers through fabric; where roots chink the seams of stone walls like putty.

-where dense, pillowy moss clumps and tufts up in fat daubs of imperial green. 

-where every surface, every tree, stone, and log is encrusted with the vivid graffiti of lichens; lichens and mosses in a stippled, dappled, color riddled display that blurs the borders of the beautiful and the grotesque.



It’s that crawling, seething skin of life; the overlapping waves of systems playing out their parts: 


-frenzied bacteria silently amassing in unseen legions within the pulpy towers of an old tree stump.  


-and bulbed clusters of mushrooms bloom after a rain, swelling into visibility, clad in frightening and garish textures, eventually to shrivel, to dry, and to bleed some invisible ink into the air that they might rewrite themselves next year.


-where low lying pockets are filled with the yearning fingers of outstretched ferns, their overlapping geometries scissoring apart the sunlight.  


-where fog benevolently invades, enveloping, encompassing, engulfing mists that cast landscape into a mysterious frame. 


-where young trees embrace the surrounding boulders, coil themselves to the stones before peeling away and vaulting out into open space; where the tree and the rock –who can tell the dancer from the dance?—are a continuity, as if the stone was dreaming of movement, and the tree was wishing for permanence.



It is a slender, lean, almost bony place, where one can taste the magisterial force of everything that ekes, scrapes, and sucks out a momentary life upon, and throughout all this hard, hard stone. 


A venue where one can stroll through a split in a stone the size of a circus tent; where one might find oneself beneath an outcropping shelf of root, mud, and rock that is sturdier than an airplane wing.


Most beguiling is the passage from intimacy to grandeur; one moves from a hidden, tidy glen to an ecstatic valley view in a wink and a blink. One climbs through a bodytight crevice to a sky-wide opening; moving from weeping stone walls to cloud strewn space. Scale becomes a malleable, shifting value; the land is at once accessible and sublime, the personal becomes the universal. At both ends of the spectrum lies communion; a point to absorb and be absorbed. 


It's this place, boulderish, intimate, soft; this mountain high environ beckoning, compelling.  

Come, it offers. Come and take a ramble.