Split Rock has long been a popular destination. Like many, the Schenker family of New Paltz, discovered Split Rock when they first moved from Brooklyn with their two young children, Bonni and Sean.
“From the time we moved here, we would go there with the kids, or together to share a quiet moment, let the kids splash around in the water, to celebrate or just enjoy the magic of the place,” said Stacey Schenker, who is now writing a book about Split Rock and is soliciting any inspiring stories of “family, children, love and life” that have taken place at this particular locale.
Stacey explained that as their family grew, her late husband Bruce and their three boys -- Sean, Jonah and Keith -- had many bonding moments at the water’s edge, daring each other to be the first to jump in the cold water come April.
“They shared many fun, intimate, special moments there, and then our daughter Bonni was always drawn to that spot -- so much so that she had her wedding there,” she said.
While Split Rock was a place that Stacey and Bruce enjoyed, it is also the place where they held an intimate family memorial. The Schenker family gathered to scatter Bruce’s ashes into the crystalline water after his untimely death at age 61, from cancer, in 2007.
“Our family continues to go there and talk to him, the grandchildren make little Zen statues, or poetic tributes to him. It’s a place of solace and a place of connection to how close we feel to his spirit, standing by the water. The kids laugh, sing songs, we tell stories, and of course say, ‘don’t get so close to the edge of the cliff.’”
As time went on and Stacey began to take photos at Split Rock on a regular basis, she started noticing other people’s joy and laughter. And she would find things left there -- little stone statues, leaves and sticks arranged with care, gentle markings near a tree. Stacey said that suddenly she moved out of her grief and thought to herself that there “must be so many stories like ours. Maybe not a wedding or a memorial service, but so many stories of love and family and marriage proposals, celebrations, gatherings, things that highlighted people’s lives, changed them somehow, marked a significant milestone … Yes, this is a sacred place and I believe very strongly that there are many stories out there that both honor this place and that this place honors in people’s lives and their own narratives.”
She noted that when the idea first came to her, she wasn’t ready. The pain and grief was still too intense to take on the project that she thought would be so remarkable.
“But now I’m ready. I’m so ready and so excited to hear and learn and publish a book that is a collaboration of many people’s stories about Split Rock. I’m joyful and know that so many people, who are from here, or who passed through here, or return here feel that same connection to the earth, to being a small part of something so much bigger, who also find solace and joy in that place that is so pure in beauty and spirit.”
To that end, Stacey is soliciting stories from everyone and anyone for a book about “the magic of Split Rock.” Serious inquiries only, as the goal of the book is to celebrate the place and the lives that have been and continue to be touched by Split Rock.
You can e-mail your stories to firstname.lastname@example.org or send them to P.O. Box 723, New Paltz, NY 12561.
This book is a continuation of the Schenker family’s www.TurtleEagle.org project that was inspired by Bruce’s children’s book “The Turtle Woman & The Eagle.”
The sale of that book, along with proceeds from the Bruce Schenker Memorial 5K Race, go to specific charities -- both local and national -- as well as to their goal of creating a carousel in Ulster County that all children can enjoy.