Now come the sweet spring days when it is balmy enough to saunter out of doors, aimlessly wandering over meadows and woodlands. We spent the winter cultivating busyness as if it were a virtue; now we can shake purpose from our footsteps to sally forth with our eyes and ears open and our minds, mercifully, shut.
Thoreau is a great proponent of meaningless meandering:
“I have met but one or two persons in the course of my life who understand 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 pretense of going a la Sainte Terre, to the Holy Land, until the children exclaimed, ‘There goes a Sainte-Terre, a Saunterer, — a Holy Lander.’” “Walking”
Medieval walkers apparently felt so sinful about sauntering that they pretended it had a purpose. Our hikes should be to nowhere in particular and we need to practice a sauntering of the mind as well. Do work worries or items from a to-do list bob up? Quash them! In genuine sauntering, Doing is the enemy of Being. We shouldn’t take the opportunity to rummage about in our grudges but to jettison our egos and be present for nature’s presence, forbidding past regrets and future concerns from sullying the blessed now.
There is nothing in the world like sitting down after a thoroughgoing saunter and, for that, I have a giveaway. When I was a birder and forager, mushroom hunter and canoeist in Wisconsin I fell in with a wild and wooly group of Unitarians, nature lovers all, who took Aldo Leopold as their patron saint. They used to pass around a pencil-drawn plan for his “Aldo Leopold Bench.” Not being handy with hammer and saw myself, I hired a carpenter to build one next to the Betsie River at my cabin.(That’s the view from my bench above). It holds me in the perfect posture for sitting meditation, my back tilted to just the right angle so that I can give myself up entirely to relaxing and wool gatheing.
Here’s The Drawing:
Here are the Materials and Cutting Instructions
From 2×8 Board
1. cut 2 pieces, 41″ each with 18 degree angles on each end (parallelogram)
2. 2 pieces 25″ with 30 degree angles on each end (also parallelogram)
3. 1 piece 51″ long
. From 2×12 board, 1 piece 48″ for the seat.
How to put it together (best to sand pieces before construction)
- Take 1 each of pieces 1&2 and screw together as in illustration. To find right place make sure bottoms rest flat on floor – have rear of #2 board (smaller one) flush with back side of #1. There will be of projection of 1-1 1/2 ” on #2 where seat will rest
- Repeat with other 2 pieces only reverse so #2s will be on the inside.
- Prop 2 side pieces you have just completed so they are vertical and feet are flush with the floor. Place seat on tops of #2s and screw in so that back is flush with rear of # 1 – seat projects forward of front edge of #1.
- Screw in back to the tops of #1s having edges flush with top and sides of #1s.
- Treat with wood preservative.