I love the word “saunter.” Saunter. It rolls out of the mouth slow and mellow. In his essay, Walking, Henry David Thoreau suggested there is an art to taking a walk; that is learning to saunter. To saunter may feel to some to indicate the activity of a vagabond – a homeless person roaming from place to place. Thoreau suggested that to saunter, or “go forth on the shortest walk” should be an adventure and a crusade. In his eyes, those who sit in their houses all the time are the vagrants.
“I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station [in] which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in.” George Washington Carver
Many people have never thought much about tuning in to nature, but learning to do this is not difficult. Our lives are so busy with obligations and fast - paced social networking activities, it is easy to sit inside and ignore nature. Forcing yourself to take time for a walk outside is how you tune into nature.
In spring and summer the world is full of green things. The color green is said to be gentle on the eyes. Is it a coincidence that God made so much green at a time of year that encompasses the newness of the earth? In fall and winter, the colors are much different. Fall yellows, oranges and reds are inspiring and comforting. Winter whites and blues may seem drab, but these colors in nature evoke calmness.
You don’t have to find a solitary location or official hiking trail to enjoy the peace of nature. It can be found in your backyard, on a street corner, or in a local park. The trick, as Thoreau puts it, is to free ourselves from all worldly engagements. He points out that legs are not made to sit upon, but to walk upon.
When I walk or hike, I am on a crusade; a crusade to find the best part of nature, the ultimate spot in the wild, and peace. When I find it, I suck it into my heart so I will never forget it.
According to Thoreau, to become a walker requires a “direct dispensation from heaven,” and he challenges those he feels are not fit to take a walk. I don’t know if he was serious when he said this, “If you are ready to leave father and mother, and brother and sister, and wife and child and friends, and never see them again – if you have paid your debts, and made your will, and settled all your affairs, and are a free man – then you are ready for a walk.” It sounds like he was challenging us, saying not everyone could become a walker.
So, are you ready to go for a walk? I hope so. Get out there and enjoy your natural surroundings, find peace, and defy Mr. Henry David Thoreau!