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CNY Branch of the NLAPW

Baltimore Woods Excursion Leads to Creative Work

The CNY Pen Women met on October 13, 2023, at the Baltimore Woods Nature Center. We gathered inside the art gallery where Mary Hutchins Harris led a lively discussion about creativity and nature. Then we went outside into the autumn woods with our sketchbooks, notebooks, and cameras. It was more of an amble than a hike, all of us moving quietly to observe and record what we saw and heard and smelled.

We stopped several times for women to read nature poems aloud — or sometimes to just drink in our surroundings. After all that walking in the cool autumn air, everyone was hungry, so we headed to Kiki's Greek Restaurant in Camillus for lunch and more conversation.

Thank you to our guest speaker Mary Hutchins Harris and to Georgia Popoff for arranging this "expedition" into the woods.

Lisa Harris created a poem after the experience:

Baltimore Woods A triple trunk beechwood makes its own trinity. Farther down the path, a black walnut’s face scrutinizes me, and asks, ‘What brings you here today when the wind is light and a murder of crows’ cries assault the air?’ I do not answer. This is no place for words. A sugar maple’s thick bark flaunts dark lines and swirls, patterns for a folk dance on this October day. I gather long sticks, broken and sharp, place them to make a lean-to for fox and raccoons, and a hiding place for spirit. Below me, a field: golden rod gone to dust, tractor parts gone to rust. Purple asters blink, behind them a sycamore stands alone-- surrounded by pines who drop a golden blanket to hide its roots. Remember how the land lays—no boundaries— open and wide as the divine: crinkle bark, Euro larch, ginko, scarlet oak, sugar maple— the incantation of trees. Oh! thick bark, rough and strong! Let me touch you. Let me hold you, Wind and I whisper. Who can remember when all land was this way? Partly full. Partly empty. Quiet and loud. I invoke milkweed, meadow sweet, catnip, blue waxy berries—each and everything complete. Then a barren bough points straight toward azure while flapping wings announce a rising hawk.


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