Sunday, April 27, 2014

Wandering...

“He made the world to be a grassy road Before her wandering feet.” ― W. B. Yeates

I love to wander.  I simply cannot go from point A to B in a straight line.

In fact one of the most annoying and boring things about living in the city is all that pavement, all that directed movement. In the morning people would stream mindlessly out of Boston's South Station to form an unbreakable line eschewing crosswalks, traffic lights.  Faces all expressing weariness, drudge and boredom as they move like sheep towards the jobs they hate.  At night it's the reverse but there's a little more joy (the happiness of escape) as they head home, some in a sprint to make the train, all with that sense of "get me outta here."  It is never a good idea to try to break through that going-to-work or leaving-work-heading-home line, they are all focused on their iPhones and don't see anything.  

Long ago when I lived in a rural part of NY there would be many days when I would drive around see a road wonder where it went...then I'd go find out.  I got lost a lot but always knew that all I had to do was turn around and go back.  On one exploration I pushed it further and further following one road after another and another and ended up somewhere in the Green Mountains - it was fabulous.  It would seem a great way to see the entire USA just taking one road after another, no map, no agenda just wondering where a particular road would lead to. I'm doing that now that I've escaped the city and every time I go somewhere I try to take a different route back.





My favorite thing is  when the macadam ends and a dirt road begins.

In my top 5 favorite books there are some terrific books about wandering.  First is "A Time of Gifts" by Sir Patrick Leigh Fermor who as a young boy sets out to cross Europe with only a backpack starting from Hook Holland to Romania (I believe).  The book tells of his journey and I'm jealous.  Soon I will buy the next book which tells of the last part of his trip from Romania to Constantinople (all on foot). 




Another favorite book is "Wanderlust" by Rebecca Solnit this is a better description than anything I could come up with:  "Profiling some of the most significant walkers in history and fiction, Solnit presents a delightful and brilliantly conceived meditation on the art of walking."

Of course this leads me to Wordsworth who Ms. Solnit talks about but there is much more on the web.  Wordsworth was notorious for his long jaunts in any weather, often with his sister.  In fact one of his greatest poems came from wandering "I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud"  Clearly there's a deeply practical side to me as the one thing I wondered about most when reading accounts of Wordsworth's epic & frequent trips (even just to visit a friend)....I wondered about his shoes.  I'm assuming they were handmade, were they comfortable?  warm enough?  It seems like shoes were so much better than they are now.  I thought about it too when reading about Patrick Fermor's journey.

All that came to mind recently when my sister and I did a very short section of the Appalachian Trail.  I had hiking shoes, she was only in sneakers and it was as soupy, soggy day but we were in heaven.  

Part of the AT is very near where I live now and we both remarked at the brilliant strip of green that leads the way.  I could feel the presence of all those who have hiked that path and all those who were headed towards this part.  What a thrill.  Both my sister and I have read Bill Bryson's book "A Walk in the Woods" about the AT, it's laugh-out-loud funny,  knee slapper of a book and oh how I'd love to do the trail.  Also would love to do the Long Trail through Vermont.  But these are all dreams for the next life as there is no way with my new knee and painfully arthritic other knee and hip that I could even manage it.  No regrets or sadness tho as I make up for it in other ways by taking all those roads not taken.  I hike gently all the time but I'm a bore to all my hiking groups as I go slow by necessity and enjoy the journey more.  I'm not interested in "bagging" a hike, I want to look at all that's growing, listen to birds, stop and take in the view...it is ALL about the journey now.  Whether it's in the woods...


along the shore...


...or the exciting streets in Europe it doesn't matter. It's all wonderful, fantastic, thrilling and as Anthony Liccione says "A million miles from nowhere, is better than going nowhere, a million times.”   By the way I don't know who he is but he sure got it right with this statement.


“Go outside. Don’t tell anyone and don’t bring your phone. Start walking and keep walking until you no longer know the road like the palm of your hand, because we walk the same roads day in and day out, to the bus and back home and we cease to see. We walk in our sleep and teach our muscles to work without thinking and I dare you to walk where you have not yet walked and I dare you to notice. Don’t try to get anything out of it, because you won’t. Don’t try to make use of it, because you can’t. And that’s the point. Just walk, see, sit down if you like. And be. Just be, whatever you are with whatever you have, and realise that that is enough to be happy. There’s a whole world out there, right outside your window. You’d be a fool to miss it.”
― Charlotte Eriksson