For the past seven winters I have returned to the hills of Steepletop, the home of poet Edna St Vincent Millay and the Millay Colony for the Arts in upstate New York. In exchange for my studio and access to the Millay facilities during the off season, I offer my skills as a handywoman and painter, readying the spaces for the upcoming season when the Colony will again be a buzz with writers, poets and artists during the summer residency season. It’s called Winter Shakering and it is truly unique to the Millay Colony for the Arts.

As a Winter Shaker you might be completely alone for a week or more at the colony. Or you might be graced with the company of some extraordinary people who are seeking the same unique tonic of isolation, silence and space needed to create. You might share meals or you might share trips into town with the other Winter Shakers. You might be snowed in for a day or two, or you might have a week of crystal clear winter days. You might hear peepers in the pond during March or possibly hear the barking of a red fox after snowstorm in February.

I have had the pleasure of experiencing all of the above.

I continue to revisit Millay as a Winter Shaker year after year to embrace my insatiable need for solitude and a deep, uninterrupted expanse of time to do my work. For me, the landscape of the Berkshires rejuvenates, the silence invigorates and the lasting friendships made by chance over the years of Shakering continues to sustain me.

That is the beauty of Winter Shakering at the Millay Colony for the Arts.

Suzanne Onodera
Ithaca, NY
2008 Alumna

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