Watching & Listening

Sarah Walko, Visual artist and director

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The Lenni-Lenape native American tribe were the original inhabits of the Watchung Reservation, a part of the Algonquin nation and a very peaceful tribe. Because of this the Iroquois called them "The Old Women," and they were diplomatic and often the intermediaries in resolving problems within the nation. They were also called "ancient ones" as they are among the most ancient of the Northeastern Nations. I live close by and come to the reservation often. Each time I do I think of the Lenni-Lenape and the history of the land, the wisdom of the land, their peaceful ways and I wonder which trees watched them who are now watching me.

I walked the path next to Surprise Lake. The moss and the small buds just starting to come to life after the long winter. I always pay attention to what animals I see as I walk, as harbingers and symbolism. I stopped for a few minutes and sat next to the water to say a quiet goodbye to this winter. I looked across the water and a great blue heron flew by, one of the many birds that inhabit the reservation. The heron is a bird of in between - at home in water, earth and air, prefers hunting at magical twilight. It is comfortable with one foot on land, and one foot in the water, a sign of liminality, of crossing into the space that is neither here nor there - but both.

Sarah Walko