TCS: Thoreau and the Art of the Saunter

Good Morning!


Welcome to The Coffee Shop, just for you early risers on Monday mornings. This is an Open Thread forum, so if you have an off-topic opinion burning a hole in your brainpan, feel free to add a comment.

Walden Woods, photo by Sam Scholes



If you’ve been reading my stuff for awhile, you probably know I’m a big fan of meandering. So I was very happy when I saw that today is World Sauntering Day. Sauntering is, of course, closely related to meandering.

I tend to think of sauntering as a leisurely progress in an urban environment, and meandering as more likely to occur while exploring the natural world, so I was somewhat surprised to find that Henry David Thoreau, a man world-famous for going off to live by himself in the woods, had said, “It is a great art to saunter.”

In fact, he seems to be a fan of the word:

“I think that I cannot preserve my health and spirits,
unless I spend four hours a day at least –
and it is commonly more than that –
sauntering through the woods and over the hills and fields,
absolutely free from all worldly engagements.”

– Henry David Thoreau

But saunter or meander, the message is clear:

Slow down.

Take a look around.

Catch your breath.

However, these are not such easy things to do in our modern pressure cooker, when many of us feel a twinge of guilt if we are only doing one thing, instead of multi-tasking. And the idea of wandering without a goal might cause some urbanites to hyperventilate.

Many workaholics die very quickly after retirement. It seems the sudden transition from a constant pressure to get more and more things done, to having “nothing to do” is a contributing factor.

I am one of those people who like keeping busy. I want to feel I’m useful, and I need a challenge to keep me going. But when I do take a break, I love having only a few ideas about what I might do, and nothing that I have to do. For it really not to matter whether we arrive at 2 PM or 5 PM,  because something intriguing popped up along the way, and we lingered to check it out.

“Work Hard, Play Hard” sounds like a recipe for disaster to me. So start today a little bit easier, take a few minutes to saunter, or meander, whichever you prefer, on a virtual walk in the woods.



HappyWorld Sauntering Day

About wordcloud9

Nona Blyth Cloud has lived and worked in the Los Angeles area for the past 50 years, spending much of that time commuting on the 405 Freeway. After Hollywood failed to appreciate her genius for acting and directing, she began a second career managing non-profits, from which she has retired. Nona has now resumed writing whatever comes into her head, instead of reports and pleas for funding. She lives in a small house overrun by books with her wonderful husband.
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3 Responses to TCS: Thoreau and the Art of the Saunter

  1. shortfinals says:

    I live 14 miles from Walden Woods, and know them well. They remind me of some areas of my native Derbyshire, and have the same restorative nature. I believe even bewildered Border Collies would benefit from them!

    • wordcloud9 says:

      Good morning shortfinals –

      LOL – Affy would love a ROMP in the woods – she never saunters when she’s excited about exploring a new place.

      She does saunter very nicely on a regular walk – until there’s another dog! Then she’ll nearly dislocate my shoulder yanking me along so she can meet and greet a canine neighbor.

  2. shortfinals says:

    I am sure Affy would enjoy Derbyshire, too (other than the pesky quarantine restrictions, that is) including next week’s Derbyshire County Show (see below)

    You would enjoy the Bee-keeping exhibition, perhaps, or the dry stone walling, and Affy would want to make friends with the many sheep! You might even enter her in the dog show. I miss my local show, it was a fixture in our rural world.

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