What is a Saunter?


Euonymus atropurpureus greets a Saunter at Hitchcock Nature Center. (Robert Smith.)

On May 1st, 1857, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau went for a walk in the woods. Each of them mentioned that walk in their journals but described completely different experiences. Thoreau wrote about his cleverness in fashioning a specimen box from birch bark and didn’t have much to say about his companion. Emerson, on the other hand, praised Thoreau for his cleverness in his journal entry and hoped that their walk together would heal a rift in their friendship. He envisioned a new collaboration: “We will make a book on walking, ’tis certain, & have easy lessons for beginners. Walking in Ten Lessons.”

Ralph and Henry never wrote such a book. So the task fell to me. A Pocket Guide to Sauntering draws on the journals and essays of Emerson and Thoreau. Sauntering as a way of walking originates with Thoreau; New Tree School has clarified and adapted his philosophy. The Pocket Guide states that

“A saunter, properly undertaken, explores inner landscapes as well as the terrain being traversed. It is introspective while being shaped by the lay of the land.”

If you want to know more about the New Tree School method of sauntering, or to get your hands on  A Pocket Guide to Sauntering, you will need to join us for a Saunter. Click  here to find us in the bush.

Saunter forth!