Two days before the winter solstice, with the temperature in the 30s, and Omicron in the headlines, two people showed up for a walk led by mindful outdoor guide Cindy Olsen at the Rockwood Hall section of the Rockefeller State Park Preserve on Sunday, Dec. 19.
Twelve people had signed up for the program, which was postponed from Dec. 18 due to rain. Despite the turnout, Olsen carried on, handing both participants cloth bags that contained a foam cushion and a wool blanket. She then led them on a meditative ramble that included stretching, sitting, and a brass chime.
Olsen, who resides in Larchmont, learned to lead such programs at the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in Massachusetts. She also received training from the Association of Nature & Forest Therapy. She now runs her own business, Cindy By Nature, and works at the Sheldrake Environmental Center in Larchmont and for a virtual studio called Pause to be Present.
The walk at Rockwood Hall culminated with tea under a weeping beech tree, where Olsen and the participants shared their intentions for the new season and the new year. Olsen also supplied small bowls of bird seed to leave nearby.
The weeping beech grows between bird houses placed by park staff and the former site of the 204-room mansion that was the home of William Rockefeller until his death in 1922, at age 81. The building then served as a country club, and then another country club, before it was demolished in 1941-42.
The mansion’s foundation remains. So do the carvings that countless individuals made into the trunk of the weeping beech. Both serve as lessons about making marks on life in a meaningful way.