St Croix River Road Ramblings

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Thursday, January 3, 2013

Sauntering through the Woods

   One of my online friends with Myasthenia Gravis is mourning the loss of running as a part of her life.  She was struck with MG a few months ago and it took away one of her main enjoyments as well as made her an outcast in her circle of runner friends.  In writing about it, she has given me a glimpse into her identity as a runner.  She is determined to beat MG and get this back, however, each time she attempts to run and does for a short time, MG makes the next hours and days miserable.  MG for most people requires a life style change and running just does not seem to be a likely in her future, but I hope I am wrong.  As running was not recently any part of my life, I don't mourn what I don't plan to do.  

Ditch Snowmobile tracks
   My suggestion, that walking is a pleasant alternative was just not rational to her.  I do sometimes think that runners and other extreme athletes may not be quite rational in their outlook, but I would never  say that directly to one (might beat me up ;-)

   Today it was through the back woods in the somewhat deep snow, idling along keenly observing the tracks, wildlife and winter cover. I practice stepping up and over downed logs, in and around obstacles and on unstable footing--something that MG made more difficult and the knee had hindered pre-replacement.   I looked for shed antlers, but no new deer tracks at all this week. 

Mouse Cover
Seeing the world deliberately at a sustainable MG pace has its rewards too.  I don't suffer the next day for over doing it--something MG does do to us if we overdo.  I stop and take photos of textures, scenes wildlife etc, when I need a break.  

Recently I re-read Thoreau's essays on walking.  He likes the word "saunter" as a description of how to walk through nature. 

  He starts his essay by defining "saunter" and explores its etymology.  
"I have met with but one or two persons in the course of my life who understood the art of Walking, that is, of taking walks, who had a genius, so to speak, for sauntering; which word is beautifully derived "from idle people who roved about the country, in the middle ages, and asked charity, under pretence of going à 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 (1) in us, to go forth and reconquer this holy land from the hands of the Infidels."

After the definition, he delves into walking.  I found the essay interesting and inspirational for me--to become a person who understands the art of walking.

   The full essay is at: 
Thoreau on walking link

"When he came to grene wode, 
In a mery mornynge, 
There he herde the notes small, 
Of byrdes mery syngynge. "