“It Is a Great Art to Saunter”

Sauntering 001 - Louisville, CO.

“It Is a Great Art to Saunter” – Walking, Henry David Thoreau

Walking is available on Project Gutenberg http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/1022

Here is a brief excerpt.

“…SAUNTERING, which word is beautifully derived “from idle people who roved about the country, in the Middle Ages, and asked charity, under pretense of going a la Sainte Terre,” to the Holy Land, till the children exclaimed, “There goes a Sainte-Terrer,” a Saunterer, a Holy-Lander. They who never go to the Holy Land in their walks, as they pretend, are indeed mere idlers and vagabonds; but they who do go there are saunterers in the good sense, such as I mean. Some, however, would derive the word from sans terre without land or a home, which, therefore, in the good sense, will mean, having no particular home, but equally at home everywhere. For this is the secret of successful sauntering. He who sits still in a house all the time may be the greatest vagrant of all; but the saunterer, in the good sense, is no more vagrant than the meandering river, which is all the while sedulously seeking the shortest course to the sea. But I prefer the first, which, indeed, is the most probable derivation. For every walk is a sort of crusade, preached by some Peter the Hermit in us, to go forth and reconquer this Holy Land from the hands of the Infidels.”

The Idle Traveler and the Art of Slow Travel

I’m a big fan of Tom Hodgkinson’s books on being idle. I’m also enjoying this book by Dan Kieran, The Idle Traveler, The Art of Slow Travel. Tom Hodgkinson wrote the forward which nicely captures the theme of the book:

What Dan has attempted in this book is to outline a particular philosophy of travel, where travel becomes part of one’s own therapeutic journey, rather than simply an escape. So it would be true to say that idle travel does not mean comfortable travel or easy travel. In fact, Dan reserves particular ire for the soul-deadening effect of fancy hotels. It is not even necessarily slow travel, for the actual pace of movement is surely relative – a train ride would have seemed impossibly fast to a Florentine apothecary of 1450. Idle travel is nothing to do with ‘fun’ in the modern sense, meaning a temporary escape from our ills. No: it is more to do with attitude. Perhaps ‘deep’ travel would be a better synonym.