I’m a ‘wordy’ person. I like to find just the right word for a description or situation. But sometimes the word I find seems too highfalutin’ and so I might dive into the thesaurus to remind me of other options I could use instead.
Saunter is one of those words. It’s rarely used these days, but it has a particular, special meaning to me - so much so - that I use it as the name for my business. And although I know it is an apocryphal story, I’m quite taken with tale as told by Henry David Thoreau about sauntering.
[It] is a 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, till the children excaimed, There goes a Sainte-Terrer,” a Saunterer, a Holy-Lander.
Dictionary.com however, gives this less prosaic answer as the origin and history for saunter:
v. late 15c., santren “to muse, be in reverie,” of uncertain origin despite many absurd speculations [me - probably refers to the Thoreau story]. Meaning “walk with a leisurely gait” is from 1660s, and may be a different word. Klein suggests this sense of the word derives via Anglo-French sauntrer (mid-14c.) from French s’aventurer “to take risks,” but OED finds this “unlikely.”
So, a word with an inexact history.
Still, there’s something about the combination of wandering, musing, reverie, sacred ground and risk-taking adventure that speaks deeply to my soul and of my soul.
It’s how I approach the creative work I do, whether stitching or printing or teaching or painting or writing or dreaming of what comes next.
Perhaps you would like to come and saunter with me for a time?