NEW YORK AND PENNSYLVANIA — Looking for inspiration lately? Some good news to balance the bad? How about this: six women from New York and Pennsylvania walking 90 miles in one week, battling blisters, dealing with darkness, rising with the sun and taking to the road again—all to raise awareness of the sacredness of water and land.
From Buttermilk Falls in Neversink, NY to Salt Spring State Park, near Montrose, PA, the women carried water in Amphora, a vessel crafted by Trisha Kooman. There was no lack of water on the walk, as rain greeted the women nearly every day, even showing up in tears and nourishing beverages like the hemlock and birch tea prepared by local herbalist Nathaniel Whitmore at the home of Thomas deerheart and Maya Minwah in Lake Como, PA.
Just after 9 p.m. last Tuesday, deerheart was obtaining something from his truck in a cold, pelting rain. From the darkened road he heard a greeting—“Helloooooo.” Coming toward him were Chrys Countryman and Joy Ohrvall, dripping with rainwater, but beaming nonetheless.
“I can still see this most incredible smile from ear to ear on both of their faces,” said deerheart. “They were so present, grounded and full of all the natural elements of their journey, two incredible women on a walkabout, wide-eyed and gloriously full of human spirit. Joy was clutching the Amphora and Chrys held aloft the staff of ribbons.”
The women were graciously hosted by the Inn at Starlight Lake that evening, then returned to the home of deerheart, a drummer, and Maya Minwah, an alchemist and shaman, in the early morning to share cornbread, roasted pumpkin seeds, fresh fruits and spirited discussion. Minwah anointed the women’s feet with rose water and Oil of Magdalene.
Memorable moments were recounted. “A young man on a scooter stopped and asked, incredulously, ‘Do you need a ride? I saw you in Liberty and you’re still walking!’” laughed Bess Path. “Every time we walk past a cow pasture, they all watch us,” said Chrys Countryman. “I feel like they know what we’re doing. And they’re grateful.”
Hard-won insights were shared. “Walking brings you to center; it brings you to presence,” said Path. “It enables you to see solutions to complex problems,” added D’Angelo-Karpe.
A song about the balancing of the water was led by deerheart and followed by drumming as the women began their next 15-mile stint. Two days earlier, the walkers were celebrated community-style at a potluck gathering of approximately 80 people in Callicoon, NY.
“The people in that community made our hearts sing,” said Countryman. “It’s a community that really gets it. They love each other so much. It was evident how much they love where they live.”
“I was so touched by that community,” added Path. “It made me hopeful. They care so much about their land and their water. And not just theirs. That is a memory that I will carry forever.”
The women also paid a visit to the water-powered WJFF radio state in Jeffersonville, NY where they were interviewed by Lisa Brody on her show, Gift of Peace. (Hear the show at www.wjffradio.org/wjff/index.php?section=38 . Click on the April 17 recording).
“We’re walking about water, but it’s also about food and indigenous culture and respecting the wisdom we can work from. It’s all connected,” said Countryman. “We’re aware that there are people around the world who have to walk to get their water and carry enough to use for their families. We recognize that we’re privileged and we’re grateful for this.”
The women and their Amphora arrived safely in Salt Spring State Park on April 22. Funds raised during the walk are being used to support testing of water, air and land (www.shaletest.org ). Visit www.walkaboutwater.blogspot.com .