A wander is a special kind of walk. One where we meander, this way or that, walking slower than normal. There is no predetermined destination. There are no time limitations, thus no sense of hurry. We follow our nose, open to what we might find.
This mindset allows us to see more and leaves our minds free to wonder. Here’s a report from one of my recent wanders.
This creek runs about a block behind my house and I cross it almost every day when I walk into town. It makes me wonder where it begins. And, how about this tiny garden around a tree on town property. I imagine the owner of the house here created it. Who is this person and how did they become so generous?
The local elementary school closed down last June. I realized that I’d never walked through the schoolyard, only around it, so I decided to wander through. In less than a year, it’s already showing signs of abandonment – the painted metal benches outside that kids would sit on were rusted out and the basketball hoop had no net. The painted on hopscotch was still in good shape and I wondered how many games had been played on this particular one. I hopped through it myself.
This sign stopped me, because it seemed very odd. But, it didn’t take long to realize that it makes perfect sense in a tourist town.
I wondered what was behind this ivy-covered window at the Prince of Wales Hotel and about the story behind local legend, Chris Smythe, the chef of their restaurant, Escabeche.
One mystery became apparent as I wandered. Grafitti is suddenly popping up all over town, very unusual for this area. I wondered, is it a protest of some sort or just some kids with nothing better to do? There are a couple of symbols I’ve seen repeated, such as this one, found at an abandoned house in the process of redevelopment, the closed school, and a new commercial building on the main street.
I wondered who owned this cool, touring bike. Probably someone local.
The tourists are back, now that the Shaw Festival Theatre has reopened for the season. I wondered whether these people with their dog were local or not. I sat on a bench and watched people go by and listened to the many different languages being spoken.
Then, I checked out the books at the Little Free Library around the corner. Nothing interested me but I left an offering, a pocket version of The Art of Idleness by Stephen Graham.
I wondered about these peonies, that were barely breaking ground only a week ago. What was it about this past week, still a bit chilly in my opinion, that let them know it was time to shoot up?
I wondered if this tree enjoyed being a bench for tourists now and what would entice golfers to play on such a crisp day. The outcroppings on this tree were interesting, like a growth rather than a fungus.
I wondered why I like yellow doors so much. Who was the doctor that lived in this house almost two hundred years ago? I was thankful for this tree that is so perfect in every season.
It was a very good wander.
In her newest book, The Wander Society, Keri Smith describes wandering as a state of mind. When we wander, we are present, our senses are awake, and we leave the complications of life behind. We are completely immersed in our surroundings, open to what we might find, knowing that anything is possible. We’re outside of time, feeling no need to be productive, letting the experience guide us.