Ever read those great Frances the Badger stories? Frances (my favorite children’s book heroine), in addition to being a badger, has great imagination, and she regularly loads up her pull wagon with delectable delicacies, takes a friend, and has herself a little wander day.
In that spirit, my friend Kris and I do our own wander days, usually by car through the mysterious curves of road through Kansas that call to us, and once even by foot all over New York City and Brooklyn. We go where the wind takes us, choosing one road or street over another simply because it feels right, and enjoying the scenery as we travel. There isn’t really a destination except for the mandatory fried chicken, mashed potatoes and corn (if we’re in Kansas) and subway rides leading to amazing Russian food (think butter and sour cream) if we’re in Brooklyn.
Yesterday, we wandered, ambled, supposed and hunched our way west, southwest, north, northeast and eventually home. We found driving through an edge of Topeka oddly satisfying but couldn’t say the same about the big highwayed edge of Manhattan. We delighted in the great fried chicken in Wamego (where we have ended up before, but no surprise because it does have the Oz Museum, and there is no place……like Wamego) and gorgeous stone houses in a seldom-traveled highway through the Flint Hills. We found vistas, great conversation and the joys of mint water. I even got to kiss the Tin Man and Kris got to strangle the good witch (“Take that, Glenda!”)
The important thing when wandering is simply to follow your whims. It’s like Forrest Gump’s running stint across the U.S. and back — he said he just did whatever he needed to when he needed to do it. For us, the wandering refreshes us and resets our artistic impulses. It expands what we see and how we see, and gives us glimpse after glimpse how whatever we most want will often just suddenly appear, but more importantly, what we never expect shows up to, like a giant elk with a huge rack, and then a little parade of horses followed by a shaggy goat in the tall grass. Life is always happening, always changing. Wandering is a way to catch up with that motion.